Apr 17, 2007

Baseball 'bucs' Charleston Southern

by Mitchell Malcheff, Sports Reporter
It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Flames baseball team, who won two of three against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers and improved to 23-15 overall. Strong pitching from both teams dominated the first half of the Friday doubleheader.

The first three innings were scoreless until the Buccaneers capitalized on two Liberty errors to take a 1-0 lead in the fourth. After hitting a single with one out, Anthony Hayes moved to second base after senior shortstop Patrick Gaillard mishandled a grounder by Justin File.

With the bases full of Buccaneers, sophomore Dustin Umberger induced a strikeout and a bases loaded pop out to end the inning.

The Flames struck back in the fifth after Gaillard was hit by a pitch to start the inning.

Gaillard moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior David Giammaresi and scored on sophomore Kenneth Negron’s single to left field to tie the score at 1-1.

Gaillard plated junior Garret Young from third on a sacrifice fly to right the very next inning to put the Flames up 2-1.

The Buccaneers evened the contest in the top of the eighth thanks to two singles and a bunt.
Charleston Southern threatened to take the lead, but senior Tim John came on in relief and struck out both hitters he faced.

After a Charleston Southern error, Gaillard came to the plate with a chance to be the hero – and delivered by hitting a double to deep right that scored two runs and put the Flames up for good.

Gaillard finished with a game-high three RBI’s. John retired the side in order in the ninth to earn the 4-2 victory and even his record at 1-1.

Umberger enjoyed his longest outing of the season, allowing just two runs and four hits over 7 1/3 innings.

John was pleased with how well his fellow Flame played. “He (Umberger) looked pretty hot out there,” said John. “He hit his spots. We needed a good start from him.”

Unfortunately for the Flames, the timely hitting they enjoyed in the first game on Friday failed to manifest itself in game two.

After the Buccaneers scored three runs in the top half of the second inning, the Flames stormed right back with two runs of their own in the bottom half.

Charleston Southern stretched the lead to 6-2 in the fourth thanks to two doubles. The Flames did not help themselves very much, leaving men on base in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

Although the Flames finished the game with 12 hits, they failed to come through with what Head Coach Matt Royer called “situational hitting.”

Royer is still looking for this Flames team to step up and win games even when they are not at their best.

“The sign of a good team is to find a way to win when you are not playing your best. You have to want to do it,” said Royer.

The players noted a similar shortcoming.

“We didn’t get some timely hits,” said John.

That is what it takes to win when you fall behind, though, and the Flames failed to come through in the middle innings.

Liberty started to rally in the eighth but mustered only two runs and left the potential tying runs on base.

Junior P.K. Keller banged out a one out single in the ninth to keep hope alive, but Young hit into a double play to give the Buccaneers a 6-4 lead.

Senior Tim Nanry tore the cover off the ball, recording two doubles, scoring two runs of his own and driving in a run on his way to a game-high three hits.

Sophomore Tyler Light allowed six runs, of which only three were earned, and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings of work.

The Flames hit the batting cages early on Saturday in an attempt to work out their hitting woes. Their efforts translated into a high-octane offensive attack later that day.

The Flames fell behind 3-1 in the third after a three-run home run by Stephen Herzog over the center field wall.

Young slammed a solo home run of his own over the left field wall in the bottom of the third to pull the Flames to within one. Young leads the Flames in home runs this year with seven.

After a scoreless fourth, the Flames lit up the Buccaneers for five runs on six hits in the bottom of the fifth.

Giammaresi opened up the inning with a single to right and crossed the plate two batters later on a Negron double to center field. P.K. Keller followed with a single of his own to put men at the corners.
Consecutive singles by Young and Nanry gave the Flames a 7-3 lead.

A pitching change did very little to slow down the Liberty conga line around the bases.
A Gaillard bunt scored Keller, and junior Aaron Grijalva smoked a double down the third base line to drive home Nanry.

The Flames added another run in the sixth and only allowed one more Charleston Southern run on their way to an 8-4 victory.

Four Flames had at least two hits in the contest and P.K. Keller led the way, going three for four from the plate.

Keller has 12 hits in his last 22 at-bats, and he has raised his season average from .271 to .346 over the last six games.

The win bumped the Flames’ Big South Conference record to 5-4.

Liberty stays home to battle Lynchburg College in Worthington Stadium at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Contact Mitchell Malcheff at mjmalcheff@liberty.edu.

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