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Close Drives in Four, Cordell Belts Slam in Game 1 Win
First baseman Alex Close drove in four runs and center fielder Ryan Cordell hit a grand slam, powering the Liberty Flames past the VMI Keydets, 11-6, in game one of a Big South Conference doubleheader at Gray-Minor Stadium, Saturday afternoon.
Close drove in four runs with two hits, a two-run single and a two-run double.
Cordell connected for his second grand slam of the season and his team-leading sixth home run in the sixth inning. He belted a round tripper with the bases filled in a 14-4 victory at East Carolina on Feb. 28. The center fielder collected two hits and scored three times during the contest.
Liberty moves to 10-7 in Big South play and 25-20 overall. Liberty has won three-straight contests. VMI falls to 5-12 in conference action and 19-28 overall.
Liberty staked itself to a 4-0 advantage during its opening at bat. Right fielder Ashton Perritt and second baseman Bryan Aanderud led off the contest with back-to-back singles. Three batters later, Cordell drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Close followed with a single to score Perritt and Aanderud. And when the ball got past Keydet left fielder Jordan Tarsovich, Cordell also came home for a 3-0 edge. Left fielder Justin Sizemore then sent a double to the warning track in center field to plate Close for a four-run lead.
In the top of the fifth, the Flames extended their advantage, striking for two runs with two outs. Catcher Trey Wimmer singled with one out and moved to second on a single by Cordell. Close followed by lining a double into the left-center field gap, scoring both runners and giving Liberty a 6-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, VMI benefitted from a Flames' miscue to plate a run. Third baseman Ray Lopez reached on a throwing error by Liberty third baseman Jake Kimble and stole second base. After moving to third, Lopez then scored on a ground out by pinch hitter Red Dowell.
Both teams posted runs with home runs in the sixth. Liberty used two round trippers in the top of the frame to plate five runs. Perritt led off the inning with his fourth home run of the year for a 7-1 advantage. Later, Cordell blasted his grand slam over the left center field fence for an 11-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, the Keydets used a home run to plate two runs. After a single by right fielder Brandon Angus to begin the frame, center fielder Rob Dickinson hit his seventh home run of the year to make it, 11-3 Liberty.
VMI pushed across two runs in the eighth and a run in the ninth for the final score of 11-6.
Flames starter Brooks Roy moves to 6-4 on the year. The right-hander allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings. He struck out two batters and walked two batters.
Keydet starter T.J. Lighton drops to 4-3. He allowed four runs on five hits over two innings. He walked one batter.
Liberty collected 12 hits in the game. Besides Close and Cordell, Grauer and Perritt also had two hits in the contest. Aanderud extended his career-high hit streak to 15 games, the long hit streak by a Flame this season. VMI had 11 hits. Dickinson led all hitters in the game with three.