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Liberty Rally Comes Up Short, as High Point Takes Game 2
Despite a rally by Liberty in the ninth inning, the High Point Panthers held off the Flames, 5-3, Friday evening in game two of a Big South doubleheader at Coy O. Willard Stadium.
After coming from behind to win the first game of the doubleheader with three runs in the ninth, Liberty, trailing 5-3, once again tried to mount a rally in the ninth in the nightcap.
The first three Flames to bat in the inning reached. First baseman Alex Close singled and shortstop Dalton Britt singled to open the inning. When Britt's single was misplayed by Panther left fielder Devin Bujnovsky, both runners moved to second and third.
Third baseman Dalton Sype drew a walk to load the bases. When the next batter Nick Lacik lined out to right field, Sype was caught off the bag at first for a double play. High Point reliever Malcolm Clappsdale then got second baseman Bryan Aanderud to fly out to close out the win for the Panthers.
Liberty falls to 15-8 on the season and 4-1 in Big South action. High Point moves to 11-12 overall and 1-4 in conference play. The two teams split the doubleheader, as Liberty took the first game, 5-4.
Unlike game one, it was High Point scoring the first run of the contest. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, left fielder Sean Wilson doubled into the right-center field gap and moved to third on a single by catcher Josh Spano. First baseman Spencer Angelis then sent a RBI grounder to second base to plate Wilson and put the Panthers in front, 1-0.
Liberty staked itself to an advantage in the top of the fourth. Center fielder Ryan Cordell walked to open the frame and advanced to third base on a single back through the middle of the infield by catcher Trey Wimmer.
Two batters later, right fielder Nick Paxton was hit by a pitch to load the bases with Flames. Close then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Cordell to tie the contest at 1-1. After Britt drew a two-out walk, Sype lined a double down the left field line to plate two more runs for a 3-1 lead.
After being held in check since the first inning, High Point pushed across two in the sixth to tie the game. Spano beat out an infield single to begin the frame. Two batters later, right fielder Ryan Retz singled. A wild pitch then moved both runners into scoring position at second and third. A grounder by the next batter, designated hitter Brett Gemmell, plated Retz to make it, 3-2. Third baseman Adam Barry followed with a run-scoring double to knot the contest at 3-3.
The host Panthers used a leadoff double to go in front in the seventh. Second baseman Kyle Brandenburg opened the inning with a two-base hit off the left field wall and moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Willie Medina. Bradenburg then scored on a squeeze bunt by Wilson for a 4-3 edge.
High Point added an insurance run in the eighth inning. With one out, Retz hit his second home run of the year over the left field wall for a two-run cushion, 5-3.
Liberty starter Brooks Roy drops to 3-2 on the year. The right-hander gave up four runs on nine hits over six-plus innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter.
High Point reliever Michael Heller picks up his first win of the season to move to 1-0. The right-hander pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He struck out two batters.
Liberty collected seven hits in the contest, with Close and Sype recording two each for the Flames. High Point had 11 hits in the game. Spano had a game-high three hits for the Panthers.
Liberty and High Point will meet in the final game of their three-game series, tomorrow at Willard Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.