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Sizemore Hits Home Run as Liberty Defeats No. 5 South Carolina
Justin Sizemore hit a solo home run, helping to push the Liberty Flames past the No. 5-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, 3-2, in game two of a doubleheader at Carolina Stadium, Sunday.
The Gamecocks are the highest ranked team that Liberty has ever beaten. Previously, the highest ranked opponents the Flames had defeated were No. 6 North Carolina last season and No. 6 Clemson in 2000.
With the win, Liberty splits the doubleheader and moves to 1-2 on the year. South Carolina drops to 2-1. All three contests in the season-opening series were decided by one run, including Sunday's seven-inning nightcap.
Liberty opened the contest with a run in the first inning. With one out, center fielder Ryan Cordell ripped a triple into the right-center field gap. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud followed with a single through the hole between shortstop and third base for a 1-0 advantage.
South Carolina pushed across a run in the bottom of the third inning. Center fielder Tanner English and left fielder Graham Saiko began the frame with back-to-back singles. English then moved to third base on a fielder's choice ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Joey Pankake, knotting the contest at 1-1.
The Flames answered in the top of the fourth inning to take back the lead. With two outs, left fielder Sizemore blasted his first home run into the left field seats, giving Liberty a 2-1 advantage. The next batter, catcher Trey Wimmer, then walked and scored on a triple into the right-center field gap by shortstop Dalton Britt for a 3-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the frame, the Gamecocks got a leadoff double from catcher Grayson Greiner. However, Liberty starter Trey Lambert stranded the runner at third base, striking out the last two batters he faced in the frame.
South Carolina plated a run in the sixth inning, slicing Liberty's edge to 3-2. Pankake led off the frame with a double and moved to third base on a ground out. Two batters later, pinch hitter Erik Payne lifted a sacrifice fly to bring home Pankake.
Liberty loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning with two outs. Back-to-back singles by right fielder Nick Paxton and Cordell and a walk to Aanderud jammed the bases with Flames. But Gamecock reliever Tyler Webb retired first baseman Close to keep it a one-run contest.
In the bottom of the inning, South Carolina got its leadoff man on. But Liberty reliever Ashton Perritt retired the next three batters to seal the 3-2 win for the Flames.
Liberty outhit South Carolina in the contest, 7-6. Cordell and Sizemore each had two hits apiece for the Flames.
Lambert records the win to move to 1-0 on the year. He allowed one run on five hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one. Perritt earned his first save with 1 1/3 innings of relief, striking out one and walking one.
Next, Liberty travels to Radford, Va. for a non-conference contest against the Radford Highlanders, Tuesday. Game time at RU Baseball Field is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.