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Flames Open Liberty Baseball Stadium with Win
The Liberty Flames scored three times in the seventh inning, en route to a 4-1 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions, Saturday before 2,565 fans at the opening of the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Catcher Trey Wimmer broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out single to give the Flames a lead they never relinquished.
Liberty evens its record at 2-2 on the season. Penn State drops to 1-3. The contest was the first ever meeting between the two teams on the baseball diamond.
Saturday afternoon's matchup against the Nittany Lions marked the first game for the Flames in the newly constructed Liberty Baseball Stadium. The on-campus facility, which features 2,500 chairback seats and three VIP suites, replaces the baseball program's former home, Worthington Stadium, where Liberty played its home baseball games for 34 seasons (1979-2012). Before the contest, Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. threw out the first pitch to highlight the occasion.
Penn State opened the contest with its only run on the afternoon during its first at bat. With runners at first and second bases and two outs in the top of the first inning, first baseman J.J. White singled back up the middle to plate a run to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, Penn State loaded the bases with two outs. However, Liberty starter Carson Herndon battled back and ended the threat by getting left fielder James Coates to fly out.
Liberty tied the game with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, center fielder Ryan Cordell lined a double down left field line. After a fielder's choice grounder by second baseman Bryan Aanderud wiped out Cordell at third base, first baseman Alex Close singled to put Flames at first and second with two outs. Designate hitter Danny Grauer followed with a double to the right center field gap, scoring Aanderud and knotting the contest at 1-1.
Liberty took a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning. With one out, Grauer reached on a dropped third strike and advance to second on a single by left fielder Justin Sizemore. Shortstop Dalton Britt then walked to load the bases with Flames. Wimmer followed with a single through the left side of the infield, plating two runs for a 3-1 lead. Two batters later, right fielder Nick Paxton legged out a chopper in front of home plate, allowing Britt to score for a 4-1 Liberty lead.
During the ninth inning, Penn State threatened by putting two men aboard with one out. However, left-hander reliever Robert Gray struck out the only batter he faced and right-hander Ashton Perritt struck out the only batter he faced to seal the Liberty win.
Liberty reliever Matt Marsh moves to 1-0 on the year. The senior pitched three scoreless innings, allowing three hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. Perritt earned his second save of the year in the ninth.
Penn State reliever Cody Lewis takes the loss to even his record at 1-1 on the season. He gave up three runs on two hits. He struck out two batters and walked one.
The Nittany Lions outhit the Flames, 9-6, on the afternoon. However, Liberty pitchers stranded 12 Penn State base runners, while Liberty left four men on base in the contest.
Snyder had three hits for the Nittany Lions.
Liberty and Penn State will meet again in a doubleheader at Liberty Baseball Stadium, starting at Noon. Game One will be nine innings, while Game Two will be seven innings.