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Eckelbarger Goes Distance, Liberty Downs PC, 5-2
Liberty pitcher Patrick Eckelbarger handcuffed Presbyterian College over the full nine innings, as the Flames defeated the Blue Hose, 5-2, Saturday afternoon in a Big South Conference contest at the PC Baseball Complex.
Eckelbarger went the full nine innings for the first time in his Liberty career, running his record to 4-0 on the season. It is the second complete game of the year for the senior. Three weeks ago, the right-hander pitched a seven-inning complete game in a 1-0 win over Siena. He allowed two runs on four hits, striking five batters and walking one.
Liberty moves to 2-0 in Big South action and 19-3 overall. Presbyterian College falls to 0-2 in conference play and 9-12 overall.
Liberty jumped out to an early lead, striking for two runs with two outs in their opening at bat. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud and designated hitter Tyler Cox each singled to keep the first inning alive. First baseman Alex Close plated both runners by ripping a liner down the left field line for a double to give the Flames a 2-0 edge.
In the third inning, the two teams exchanged runs. Liberty left fielder Ian Parmley led off the top of the frame with a bunt single and advanced to third base on a hit-and-run single by center fielder Andy Smith. Aanderud followed with a sacrifice fly to deliver Parmley for a 3-0 advantage. In the home half of the inning, Blue Hose right fielder Nathan Chong opened the frame with his second home run of the year to make it 3-1, Flames.
Presbyterian College trimmed Liberty's advantage in the fourth inning. First baseman Kenny Bryant lifted a two-out home run over the right field fence. The solo round tripper, Bryant's fourth of the year, sliced the Flames' edge to 3-2.
Liberty extended their advantage back to two runs with a tally in the fifth. Shortstop Zack Haley opened the inning with a leadoff single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Parmley. Two batters later, Aanderud lined a two-out single through the left side of the infield to cash in Haley, upping the Flames' lead to 4-2.
In the top of the eighth, Liberty added an insurance run. Ryan Cordell reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and advanced to second base on a single by catcher Trey Wimmer. After moving to third base on a wild pitch, Cordell scored on a two-out infield single by Parmley for the final score of 5-2.
PC starter Chandler Knox drops to 1-2 on the season. The right-hander gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out three batters and walked none.
For the 15th time this season, Liberty recorded a double-digit hit total for the contest. The Flames collected 11 hits on the day, with Aanderud, Cox and Close having two apiece. The Blue Hose managed four hits.
Liberty and Presbyterian College meet in the final game of their three-game series tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.