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Liberty Falls in Home Opener, 7-4
Despite a solid pitching effort from left-hander Blake Fulghum, the Liberty Flames dropped a 7-4 decision to the Old Dominion Monarchs in their home opener at Liberty Baseball Stadium, Tuesday afternoon.
Fulghum gave up two runs on six hits through the first five innings, but a Liberty miscue in the sixth allowed the visiting Monarchs to take the lead for good in the contest.
Designated hitter Ryan Seiz had three hits and drove in two runs to pace the Flames.
Liberty falls to 1-3 on the year. Old Dominion evens its record at 2-2.
After Fulghum retired the Monarchs in order in the top of the first, the Flames plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder Ashton Perritt was hit by a pitch, leading off the frame and advanced to second on a bunt by left fielder Nick Lacik. Seiz followed with a sharp single back through the middle of the diamond for a 1-0 advantage.
Old Dominion struck for two runs in the top of the second, only to see the Liberty answer with a run of its own in the home half of the inning. Designated hitter Ben Slaton opened the Monarch second with an infield single, before moving to second on a bunt and third on a wild pitch. Catcher Mike Perez then tripled to score a Slaton and later, tallied the second Old Dominion run on a ground out by left fielder Brian Beard.
In the bottom of the inning, second baseman Nick Salisbury singled to right to begin the frame. Two batters later, first baseman Alex Close a run-scoring double off the center field wall, tying the contest at 2-2.
Liberty took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. With two outs, Perritt and Lacik singled. Perritt then scored on an infield single by Seiz.
The Monarchs benefited from a Liberty error in the sixth go in front in the front in the contest. With one out, Slanton doubled to right field and Jordan Negrini reached on a fielding error by Flames third baseman Dalton Britt. Perez followed with RBI single to bring home the tying run. Negrini then gave Old Dominion the lead at 4-3, by scoring on a fielder's choice grounder.
In the top of the eighth, the Monarchs stretched their advantage. Negrini and Perez reached on back-to-back, one-out singles. After Beard walked to load the bases, Liberty pitcher Perritt threw wide of second base on a ground ball back to the pitcher's mound by shortstop Tyler Urps, as Negrini scored. Right fielder Nick Walker followed by dropping a run scoring single into center field and Beard scored on a fielder choice for a 7-3 lead.
Liberty pushed across a run in the bottom of the inning. With one out, the Flames loaded the bases. The next batter, right fielder Will Shepherd, lifted a sacrifice fly to bring home shortstop Clay Keranen for what proved to be the final score of 7-4.
Fulghum takes the loss to fall to 0-1 on the year. The left-hander struck out two and did not allow a walk.
Reliever Dean Ali evens his record at 1-1. The second of five Monarchs to take the mound in the contest, Ali gave up one hit over 1/3 innings of relief. Brad Gero pitched a scoreless ninth to record his first save of the year.
Hits were even at 12 for each team. In addition to Seiz with three, Keranen collected two hits for Liberty. Perez had three hits for Old Dominion.
Liberty next travels to Wilmington, N.C. to take part in the UNCW Tournament, this weekend. The Flames will open the tournament on Friday with two games. Liberty will face Ohio at noon, before squaring off with host UNC Wilmington at 4 p.m.