Apr 29, 2008

Flames seesaw in win / loss column

by WIll Luper
It seemed to work like clockwork. First, the Flames baseball team would post a win, then a loss, then a win, then a loss. This past week was one where the Flames just could not seem to put a streak of any sort together, gaining two victories but dropping three contests. After last weekend’s two victories against the Virginia Military Institute, one of which was the longest game in Flames baseball history, it was possible that the Flames were starting to pull out of the inconsistent play that has kept them as a .500 team. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The week started off on Tuesday when the Flames traveled to James Madison (JMU) to take on the Dukes in an early-afternoon matinee. It was looking good when Liberty took a 3-0 lead after just their first chance at the plate, but by the end of the fourth inning, JMU was in front of the Flames by a score of 5-4. Although the two teams swapped the lead several times, the Dukes scored three runs in the eighth inning that the Flames were unable to answer. The final score of Tuesday’s game was 10-7. Looking to avenge Tuesday’s game, Liberty came out of the gate swinging on Wednesday against the Old Dominion Monarchs, and once again Liberty pulled ahead to an early lead. Scoring four runs in the first inning, the Flames tried not to repeat the same mistake it had made against the Dukes. Through solid pitching and excellent fieldwork, the Flames were able to defeat the Monarchs by a score of 11-3, pulling their record to 21-20 on the season. Liberty came into Friday’s game against conference opponent Winthrop looking to build on the momentum gained on Wednesday. Thanks to the Eagles, though, Liberty’s record once again dropped down to .500 after Winthrop defeated the Flames 10-5 in the opening night of the three-game Big South series. Senior David Stokes received the loss and fell to 5-4 on the year. On Saturday, the Flames came out determined to play their game and were able to do so as a result of solid pitching from junior Dustin Umberger and an offensive outburst in the third and fifth innings. In the bottom of the second inning, the Eagles scored four runs to take an early lead. But in the top of the third inning, the Flames battled back and pulled within one run. Two frames later, Liberty scored three more runs to take a 6-4 lead and did not look back, winning the game by a score of 7-6. The Flames found themselves in a familiar position on Sunday, trying to find a game to place in their win column. Once again, Liberty came out firing. In the top of the first inning, the Flames were up 2-0. If Sunday’s game was going to be anything like the rest of the weekend, though, this would not be a low-scoring affair. After four innings, the Flames found themselves down 8-2, having given up two runs in the second, four in the third and two more in the fourth. The Flames looked like they might have rallied but Liberty ultimately fell one run short in the top of the ninth to give the Eagles the 8-7 victory. The loss leaves the Flames at 22-22 on the season and 9-6 in the Big South conference. The Flames will have their opportunity to restart a potential win streak when they play their only remaining home game until after exams are over. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Worthington Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Contact Will Luper at wluper@liberty.edu.
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