Apr 24, 2007

Baseball routs Radford during three-game set

by Mitchell Malcheff, Sports Reporter
Coaches preach that, to be successful at baseball, their players must have consistency, patience at the plate and solid defense. The Flames got all of that in the first two games of a weekend series against the Radford Highlanders.

Liberty scored 29 runs and allowed only four in an impressive offensive display. Just a week ago, Head Coach Matt Royer was disgruntled with his players. He said that they were not producing any “situational” hits.

Those situational hits that were absent a week ago came in bunches on Friday and Saturday.
After scoring six runs in the first three innings during Friday’s game, Liberty sent 10 men to the plate in the fourth and stretched its lead over Radford to 12-1.

Sophomore Errol Hollinger highlighted the fourth inning Liberty attack with a bases-clearing double to left field. Although sophomore pitcher Dustin Umberger picked up his fourth win of the year, he yielded 12 hits and three runs in just 5 1/3 innings of work. Umberger was not happy with his performance.

He noted that he needed to change a number of things to fix his game for the next outing.
“I need to change speeds and use better location, and try not to get into patterns,” said Umberger.
He was also disappointed with how short his day was.
“Every time out, I plan on going nine,” he said.

Royer also expects better performances out of his pitcher.

“He needs to throw his curveball better and get ahead in the count,” said Royer.

The coach went on to say that Umberger’s curveball was breaking as soon as it left his hand, which made it easier for a hitter to time. Aside from Umberger’s performance, Royer had nothing but good things to say about his players.

“We put the ball in play with men on third,” said Royer.

“We are hitting the ball the other way much better, and we did not strike out.”

Ten different players recorded hits in the game, including three by senior Derek Bennion and two apiece from sophomore Kenneth Negron and junior P.K. Keller.
The result? A 16-3 thrashing of the Highlanders.

There is always the chance of a letdown after a game like Friday’s, but on Saturday the Flames picked up right where they left off.

Royer said that he was looking for “more of the same” in game two, and that was exactly what he got.

The Flames were hotter than a $2 pistol on Saturday on their way to a 13-1 victory. Junior starting pitcher David Stokes picked up his team-high seventh win of the season. Stokes went seven innings and allowed one run on nine hits. For the second straight day, the Liberty recorded 14 hits.
Negron opened up the third inning with a triple and crossed the plate after a Keller groundout to open the scoring.

Radford tied the game in the top of the fourth for its only run of the game.

The Flames took advantage of three wild-pitches by Radford in the sixth and tore the game wide-open, scoring four runs to take an 8-1 lead.

Little-used freshmen Cory Johnson took advantage of an opportunity in the eighth to pinch-hit and knocked home two runs on a single.

Another run came in on the play after a throwing error by the right fielder. Again, 10 different players had hits for the Flames, led by junior Garret Young who went two for three with two RBI’s.
Senior Tim Nanry and junior David Giammeresi also had a pair of hits in the contest.

On Sunday, Liberty came out firing on all cylinders in an attempt to sweep the visiting Highlanders.
The Flames did so with yet another offensive outburst, pounding out 14 hits in a 13-5 victory.
Tim Nanry started things off in the first inning when he stepped up and delivered a two-run double, giving the Flames the early lead.

Aaron Grijalva followed with an RBI groundout, providing starting pitcher Michael Solbach with an early 3-0 lead.

They tacked on one more run in the second inning on P.K. Keller’s RBI single.

Radford countered in the top of the fourth, when right fielder Corey Greene sent a Solbach delivery over the right field wall to cut the lead to 4-2. With a runner on third and only one out, Solbach was able to retire the final two batters and head back to the dugout unscathed.

The Flames scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by Keller’s sacrifice fly and center fielder Garrett Young’s 32nd RBI of the year.

Down 8-2 heading into the fifth inning, Radford was able to string together two more runs, cutting the Flames lead to 8-4.

The Flames, though, answered with four more runs in the fifth and one more in the seventh, for the 13-5 win.

Keller went three-for-three on the day with three RBIs.

In addition, Nanry put together a solid performance, going two-for-four with four RBIs to lead the Flames.

Solbach earned his sixth victory of the year, scattering six hits over five innings, and striking out three.

The Flames will face George Mason this afternoon in Worthington Stadium in a non-conference match up. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

Contact Mitchell Malcheff at mjmalcheff@liberty.edu.

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