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Paxton's Cycle Highlights Liberty's 6-4 Win over Army
Right fielder Nick Paxton hit for the cycle helping to lead the Liberty Flames past the Army Black Knights, 6-4, Friday afternoon in the first game of the Liberty Invitational at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Paxton went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored in the contest. He started his cycle with a single, followed by his first home run of the season. The outfielder then tripled, before capping his cycle with a double. He becomes the first Liberty player to hit for the cycle since third baseman Chad Miller achieved the feat in an 8-0 victory over Longwood on April 18, 2006.
In addition, Paxton's blast into the right field bullpen in the third inning is the first home run to be hit in the new Liberty Baseball Stadium.
With their sixth consecutive win, the Flames move to 6-2 on the year. Army falls to 0-5 on the season.
Liberty outfielder Nick Lacik added two hits and scored two runs in the contest.
After a scoreless first two innings, each team traded two-run frames in the third. In the top of the inning, third baseman Grant Van Orden and right fielder Jon Crucitti hit back-to-back singles with one out. Designated hitter Daniel Cortez followed with a chopper past the pitcher's mound for an infield single, plating Van Orden with the first Army run of the contest. Two batters later, left fielder Mark McCants singled to score Crucitti for a 2-0 visitor advantage.
Liberty countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Lacik opened the frame with a single and was aboard when Paxton connected for his first home run of the year to knot the game at 2-2.
In the fifth, the Flames took the lead. Lacik walked to begin the inning, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. The next batter, third baseman Dalton Sype, lifted a sacrifice fly to bring home Lacik for a 3-2 edge. Paxton followed by ripping a liner into the right field gap for a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Ryan Cordell to give Liberty a 4-2 advantage.
The Flames stretched their lead to four runs in the seventh. With one out, Paxton completed his cycle with a double. Cordell followed with a RBI single to make it, 5-2. Two batters later, designated hitter Justin Sizemore dropped a single into left field, plating Cordell for a 6-2 edge.
Army cut into the Liberty advantage with two runs in the eighth. With two outs, the Black Knights loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Michael Sands followed with a single to score two runs, trimming the Flames' advantage to 6-4. However, Sands was thrown out trying to advance to second base to end the frame.
In the ninth, Liberty reliever Josh Richardson retired Army in order to close out the 6-4 victory and collect his first save of the year.
Flames starter Carson Herndon records his first win of the year to even his mark to 1-1 on the season. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits over the first five innings, walking two batters.
Right-hander Jack Verrill drops to 0-1 for the Black Knights. He gave up four runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked three batters.
Liberty outhit Army in the contest, 9-8.
The Flames will host the Siena Saints tomorrow in the Liberty Invitational at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m., following the first game of the day between the Siena and Army.