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Close, Taormina Have Big Days in Slugfest at Old Dominion
First baseman Alex Close drove in a career-high six runs with three hits, including a grand slam, and third baseman Sammy Taormina had four hits and a home run, helping to propel the Liberty Flames past the Old Dominion Monarchs, 17-10, in a slugfest at Bud Metheny Baseball Complex, Wednesday.
Close belted a grand slam, his first home run of the year, in the first inning. The first baseman's blast was the second grand slam of his career. His first came last season in an 8-0 win over Gardner-Webb in the second game of a doubleheader on March 23 at Worthington Stadium. In addition, Close's six RBIs eclipse a previous career high of four, which the first baseman had reached five times.
Taormina posted the first four-hit game of his career and connected for the first home run of his collegiate career in the contest. The freshman followed Close's grand slam in the first inning with a round tripper of his own. He also had two doubles, coming up a triple shy of a cycle. The third baseman drove in a career-high three runs in the game.
Flames left fielder Ashton Perritt and designated hitter Danny Grauer also each added a home run in the game. Liberty's four home runs are the most by the Flames in a contest this season. Earlier this month, Liberty hit three home runs in a 12-11, 10-inning win over James Madison at Liberty Baseball Stadium on April 9.
Liberty moves to 23-20 on the season, while Old Dominion drops to 21-20. The Flames swept the season series with the Monarchs, winning both meetings between the two teams.
Liberty sent 10 men to plate in the game's opening inning to stake itself to an early lead with six runs. Perritt led off the game with a single back through the middle of the diamond and moved to second on a groundout by second baseman Bryan Aanderud. Center fielder Ryan Cordell then reached on a fielding error by Monarch third baseman Jordan Negrini, putting runners on the corners with one out. Catcher Trey Wimmer then beat out an infield single, scoring Perritt with the first run of the uprising.
Two batters later, right fielder Nick Paxton walked to load the bases with two outs. Close then cleared the bases with a blast over the left-center field wall for a 5-0 advantage. Taormina followed with his home run over the left field fence for a 6-0 Flames' lead.
Liberty followed its six-run first inning by sending 11 men to the plate and scoring six more times in the second. Aanderud and Cordell opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Two batters later, Grauer lined a double into the left field corner to cash in both runners, extending the Flames' lead to 8-0.
After Paxton singled, Close lined a two-run single to left field, upping Liberty's lead to 10-0. Taormina followed with a double down the right-field line, scoring Close for an 11-0 advantage. Shortstop Dalton Britt then collected the Flames' fifth straight hit of the inning, a run-scoring single, to make it, 12-0.
Old Dominion plated two runs in the third. Second baseman P.J. Higgins began the inning with a double and later scored on a double play for the first run of the frame. Catcher Michael Perez followed with a RBI double for a 12-2 score.
Perritt added a run to the Liberty total in the top of the fourth. With one out, Perritt lined his third home run of the season over the left field wall for a 13-2 Flames' lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Old Dominion tallied three runs on a double by Old Dominion left fielder Josh Eldridge and a Liberty error for a 13-5 score.
The Monarchs posted another run in the fifth. Negrini singled and later scored on a two-out single by shortstop Tyler Urps.
In the inning, Grauer hit a two-run home run, his fifth round tripper of the season, and the Flames added a run in the eighth on a wild pitch for a 17-6 lead.
Old Dominion posted four runs in the ninth for the final ledger of 17-10.
Reliever Patrick Bankemper, the second of four Liberty pitchers in the contest, picks up his first win of 2013, moving his record to 1-0 on the year. Grauer pitched three scoreless innings, the sixth through eighth, for the Flames.
Monarch starter Brett Harris drops to 0-1. He was roughed up for 11 runs on 10 hits over 1 1/3 innings. Harris was the first of six pitchers in the contest for Old Dominion.
Liberty collected a season-high 20 hits in the contest. Perritt joined Close with three hits in the game. Grauer had four RBIs, tying a career-high. The bottom three hitters in the Liberty line-up, Close, Taormina and Britt, went 9-for-15 with 10 RBIs in the game.
Old Dominion had 15 hits during the contest.
Liberty will travel to Lexington, Va., this weekend for a three-game Big South Conference series against the VMI Keydets. The series gets underway, Friday at 6 p.m.