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Wimmer, Richardson Lead Liberty to NCAA Regional Victory over Clemson
|Trey Wimmer crosses home plate after hitting his fifth home run of the year. The catcher had a career-high six RBIs in the contest.|
Catcher Trey Wimmer knocked in a career-high six runs and right-hander Josh Richardson pitched his third complete game of the year, leading the Big South Champion Liberty Flames past the Clemson Tigers, 8-3, in Game 1 of the NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional at Carolina Stadium.
Wimmer drove in a career-high six runs with two hits, a two-run double and three-run home run to go along with a run-scoring sacrifice fly. Playing in his home state, the Greenwood, S.C., native connected for his fifth round tripper of the year in the sixth inning to give Liberty a five-run cushion at the time.
After the third inning, Liberty starter Josh Richardson proceeded to handcuff the Tiger batters, holding Clemson scoreless during the following five innings, allowing the Flames to build an advantage. Starting with the second out of the third inning, Richardson retired the next 17 Clemson hitters until right fielder Steven Duggar doubled to open the bottom of the ninth.
Richardson went the distance for the third time this season. The right-hander moves his record to 4-4. He gave up three runs on six hits over the full nine innings. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.
Third baseman Jake Kimble also collected three hits to tie his career-high and scored two runs for the Flames.
Playing in its first regional since 2000, Liberty runs it record to 35-27 on the year and advances to play the winner of this evening's contest between Saint Louis and regional host South Carolina at 8 p.m. tomorrow, which will be televised on ESPN 2.
Clemson drops to 39-21 and will play the loser of Saint Louis and South Carolina in an elimination game at 2 p.m.
With the win, Liberty records its first NCAA Regional victory since May, 27 2000, when the Flames defeated Seton Hall, 10-2, at the Columbia, S.C. Regional.
Big South Champion Liberty, the visiting team on the scoreboard due to its lower seed, jumped out to an early advantage by plating a run its first at bat. Right fielder Ashton Perritt led off the game by lining a ground rule double into the left-center field gap. After moving to third base on a ground out by center fielder Ryan Cordell, Perritt scored on a sacrifice fly by Wimmer for 1-0 edge.
Clemson answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder Thomas Brittle reached on a fielding error by Flames second baseman Bryan Aanderud. The next batter, second baseman Steve Wilkerson, moved Brittle to third base with a hit-and-run single. Right fielder Steven Duggar followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game at 1-1.
After a scoreless second, Liberty struck for two more runs in the top of the third. Third baseman Jake Kimble opened the inning with a sharply-hit single to right field. Perritt then reached when his sacrifice bunt was mishandled by Tiger third baseman Shane Kennedy, moving Kimble to second. Wimmer followed by hammering a double into the right-center field gap, scoring both runners for a 3-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the frame, Clemson countered with a run. Brittle began the inning with a single. Two batters later, right fielder Steven Duggar lined a single into center field to plate Brittle, trimming the Liberty lead to 3-2.
First baseman Alex Close extended the Flames' advantage, leading off the fourth. Close opened the frame by ripping his third home run of the year into the bleachers in left field to give Liberty a 4-2 edge.
The Flames had a chance to extend its lead by loading the bases in the fifth, but came away empty. Wimmer reached on a throwing error by Tiger second baseman Wilkerson to begin the inning and advanced to second on a single by designated hitter Danny Grauer. Three batters later, Close walked to fill the sacks with Flames. However, Clemson relief pitcher Kyle Schnall retired the next Liberty batter to end the threat.
In the sixth, Wimmer belted his home run to up the Flames' lead. Kimble led off the inning with an infield single. Two batters later, Cordell walked. Wimmer followed with a blast over the left field, give Liberty a 7-2 lead.
The Flames added an insurance run in the eighth. With one out, Perritt singled to center field and stole second. Cordell followed with a double down the left field line to bring home Perritt for an 8-2 advantage.
Clemson plated a run in the ninth for the final score of 8-3.
Liberty had 13 hits in the game. Close, Perritt and Sizemore added two hits apiece for the Flames.