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Liberty Downs Monmouth, 4-3
Left fielder Doug Bream singled twice to score runs and John Niggli pitched seven strong innings, leading the Liberty Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Monmouth Hawks, in the third game of the Keith LeClair Classic at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
With its second consecutive win at the LeClair Classic, Liberty moves to 7-8 on the year. Monmouth drops to 3-6.
During the early innings, Liberty right-hander Niggli and Monmouth right-hander Pat Light held the opposing team pretty much in check. The Flames were able to strike for single runs in the first and third innings.
Liberty, the visitor on the scoreboard, started early, staking itself to 1-0 a lead in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Matt Williams singled to center field with one out and quickly, stole second base. Two batters later, left fielder Doug Bream lined a single into right field, plating Williams with the first run of the contest.
In the third inning, the Flames took advantage of a Monmouth miscue to extend its lead. Center fielder Ian Parmley opened the frame with a fly ball to right field, which was dropped by Hawk right fielder Jamie Rosenkranz for a two-base error. After moving to third on a fly out by Williams, Parmley scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Tyler Bream to make it, 2-0 Liberty.
Monmouth threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a leadoff single by first baseman Owen Stewart, the Hawks put runners on the corners on a one-out single by second baseman Ryan Terry. However, Liberty's Niggli got left fielder Ed Martin to bounce into a routine double play to end the end the threat and keep Monmouth off the scoreboard.
The Hawks tied the contest in the bottom of the seventh inning. Rosenkranz and third baseman Danny Avella reached on back-to-back, one-out singles. After both runners moved into scoring position on a fly out to the warning track in right-center field, catcher Tim Bickford singled back through the middle to bring home both runners to knot the game at 2-2.
Liberty answered in the top of the eighth with two runs. Second baseman Zack Haley led off the inning by liner into the left field corner for a double. Parmley followed by beating out a bunt single, and when reliever Nick McNamara's throw was wide to first base trying to get Parmley, Haley scored to put the Flames back on top, 3-2.
After Parmley advance to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Williams and Tyler Bream walked, he came home on an opposite-field single to left by Doug Bream to give Liberty a 4-2 edge.
In the ninth inning, Monmouth cut the Liberty lead to 4-3 and moved the tying run into scoring position with two outs, before J.J. McLeod was summoned from the Liberty bullpen to retire the final batter to seal the Flames victory. With one out, Rosenkranz walked and moved to second on a ground out against Liberty reliever Garrett Baker. Infielder Jake Gronsky followed with a double to plate Rosenkranz to make it, 4-3 Flames. McLeod then entered and induced a fly ball to left field to close out the Liberty win.
Niggli improves to 2-1 on the year. The junior right-hander gave up two runs on six hits, striking out one and walking none over the first seven innings. Baker followed with 1 2/3 innings of relief, allowing a run on one hit. He struck out two and walked one. McLeod faced one batter in getting the final out of the contest to earn his first save of the year.
Reliever Nick McNamara takes the loss for Monmouth. He allowed two runs on two hits in 1/3 of an inning to fall to 0-1 on the season.
The Flames had eight hits in the contest, with Doug Bream and Parmley having two hits each. The Hawks managed seven hits in the game. No Monmouth hitter had more than one.
Liberty will meet the host East Carolina Pirates in the final game of the 2011 Keith LeClair Classic tomorrow afternoon. Game time at Clark-LeClair Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m.