Apr 8, 2008

Baseball Rebounds from non-conference defeats.

by Thomas Lourdeau
The Liberty baseball team evened up its conference record over the weekend, taking two of three games from UNC-Asheville (0-9; 14-13; 11-4) over the weekend. The Flames came into Saturday’s contest after losing four straight, including two tough-luck games against William & Mary and Norfolk State. Having already dropped the opener to Asheville in disappointing fashion, there was a sense of urgency surrounding the team despite it being only the second conference series.?

In the second game on Saturday, Liberty outlasted Asheville 14-13 in extra innings. The Flames struck first as Erroll Hollinger reached base, advanced on a single and then found home thanks to two straight wild pitches by Asheville starter Michael Bogaert. Junior third basemen Cody Brown followed with a walk, and Garrett Young began his four-for-four day with a double into the right-center field gap, plating two more runs.?

?However, the lead would not last long as the Bulldogs came right back, scoring three runs of their own. Two Liberty walks led to two runs in the frame.?

In the third inning, Brown hit an RBI single, scoring Hollinger, who had reached base via a walk earlier in the inning, to break the tie. In the fourth, Aaron Phillips ripped a single to left and then advanced to second on a pitching error before finally being brought home as Hollinger, who rifled a single of his own, giving the Flames a 5-3 lead.?

?Despite the deficit, however, UNC-Asheville was not about to go quietly. Taking advantage of a Liberty error while pounding out six hits, the Bulldogs batted around and took advantage of some control problems by Flames pitching. After three straight batters reached base, the Bulldogs scored two runs on consecutive RBI singles. A pair of RBI singles, a bases-loaded walk, and a two-run double followed before Liberty was able to stop the bleeding.?

The Flames took their turn to respond in the back-and-forth contest as David Giammaresi laced a one-out double off the wall in right field with the bases loaded, scoring two. Brown followed with a sacrifice fly, and Young laced one of his three hits on the afternoon for an RBI to put the score at 11-9.?

?Young, however, was not done.?

?With the bases loaded yet again for the Flames, he came to the plate and gave L:iberty a two-run lead with one swing, crushing a pitch over the right field wall for a grand slam and his third home run of the year.?

In the eighth, the Bulldogs answered with a long ball of their own as catcher Reed Keiser launched his ninth home run of the year, tying the game once again at 13.?

?After a scoreless ninth inning, the Flames led off the top of the 10th with both Young and Brown reaching base after being hit by pitches. One out later, with the bases loaded, junior Tim Rotola scored Brown as he grounded into a fielder’s choice.?

?Senior left hander Ryan Page pitched a scoreless bottom of the tenth, picking up the save as the Flames won 14-13.

Liberty opened game three on Sunday with three runs in the first. This time, however, the Flames did not relinquish the lead to the Bulldogs, evening Liberty’s conference record (3-3) thanks to an 11-4 win in the rubber match of the weekend series.?

P.K. Keller picked up the game’s first RBI, driving home Kenneth Negron, who led off the game with a single. Keller advanced to third on consecutive put-outs before being sent home on a throwing error by Asheville starter Taylor Wohlwend.

Cody Brown added an RBI single, and the Flames led 3-0. In the fourth inning, with the Flames leading 4-1, Erroll Hollinger belted his fourth home run of the season, plating himself and Negron to give the Flames a 6-1 lead. Liberty added four more runs in the fifth, including RBI singles by Feeley and Negron as well as a two-run double by Hollinger.

Asheville scored three more runs but was unable to overcome the deficit as Liberty starter Steven Evans allowed one run and seven hits, earning his first collegiate victory.

Liberty will look to continue its sucess when it squares off against James Madison at home on Tuesday, followed by a road game with the University of Virginia on Wednesday. The Flames will then conclude the week with a three-game series against conference foe Radford. Contact Thomas Lourdeau at tlourdeau@liberty.edu.??
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