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Perritt Homers, as Liberty Falls at No. 1 North Carolina, 7-5
Outfielder Ashton Perritt's home run gave the Flames a brief lead and Liberty tried to rally with four runs in the ninth. But, the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels were able to hold off the visiting Liberty Flames, 7-5, Wednesday evening at Boshamer Stadium.
Liberty drops to 18-16 on the season. North Carolina, ranked No. 1 in the country in several polls, moves to 31-2 on the year.
After two scoreless innings, both teams used home runs to plate runs in the third. With two outs in the top of the frame, Perritt lined his second home run of the year over the left field wall for a short-lived 1-0 advantage. In the bottom of the inning, North Carolina right fielder Brian Holbertson hit the final pitch of an eight-pitch at bat over the right field wall, his fifth home run of the season, to tie the contest at 1-1.
The Tar Heels struck for four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Pinch hitter Matt Campbell and Holbertson both walked to open the frame. A fielding error by Flames third baseman Jake Kimble on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Landon Lassiter allowed North Carolina to load the bases with no outs. Third baseman Colin Moran followed by hitting his eighth home run of the season over the left field wall for a 5-1 Tar Heels lead.
North Carolina stretched its advantage with an additional run in the sixth. With one out, pinch hitter Tom Zengel singled. Two batters later, a RBI single by Holbertson made it 6-1.
The Tar Heels tallied another run in the seventh. After loading the bases with two hits and a walk, North Carolina plated a run on a wild pitch to up its lead.
Liberty sent 10 men to the plate in the ninth, pushing across four runs for the final score of 7-5. Left fielder Nick Lacik, who entered the game in the sixth, led off the inning with an infield single and two batters later, moved to third base on a single by designated hitter Danny Grauer.
Second baseman Bryan Aanderud followed with a run-scoring single for the first run of the inning. The Flames then plated the second run of the frame on a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Later in the inning with two outs, Kimble was hit by pitch and Perritt drew a walk to plate the final two runs of the contest, before Tar Heels reliever Tate Parrish was summoned from the bullpen to get the final out to close out the host's victory.
Liberty starter Robert Gray falls to 0-1 on the season. The freshman left-hander, making his first collegiate start, gave up five runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked three batters.
North Carolina reliever Trevor Kelley moves to 1-0 on the year. The reliever did not allow a run. He allowed two hits, striking out three batters over 3 1/3 innings of work.
Liberty collected eight hits during the contest. Right fielder Nick Paxton had two hits for the Flames. North Carolina recorded eight hits. Three Tar Heels had two hits each.
Liberty returns home this weekend for a three-game non-conference series against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The series opens Friday night at Liberty Baseball Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.