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Grauer Belts Two Home Runs to Power Liberty over VMI in Game 2
Designated hitter Danny Grauer hit two home runs and drove in a career-high six runs, as the Liberty Flames slugged their way to a 13-7 win over the VMI Keydets in game two of a Big South doubleheader, Saturday at Gray-Minor Stadium.
With the win, Liberty sweeps the doubleheader and the three-game series from VMI, the Flames' first road weekend sweep since taking three from Presbyterian College last season (March 16-18).
Grauer went 3-for-3 with six RBIs and four runs scored. All three of his hits were for extra bases, as the Liberty designated hitter connected for a grand slam, a two-run home run and a double. Not only did Grauer set a career-high for RBIs, but also for runs scored. He now leads the Flames with seven home runs on the year.
Liberty first baseman Alex Close also had two hits, including his second home of the year, in the contest.
Liberty moves to 11-7 in Big South action and 26-20 overall. The Flames have won four straight games and six out of their last seven. VMI drops to 5-13 in conference and 19-29 overall.
Both teams plated runs in the contest's opening inning. Just like in the first game of the day, Liberty posted runs in the top of the first. After catcher Trey Wimmer reached on a fielder's choice, Grauer belted his first home run of game over the left field wall for a 2-0 advantage.
VMI pushed across a run in the bottom of the first. Left fielder Jordan Tarsovich walked to open the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Bradon Angus. Center fielder Rob Dickinson followed with a RBI double off the right field wall to cut Liberty edge to 2-1.
The Keydets took their first lead of the three-game series during the second inning. Third baseman Ray Lopez beat out a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Flames starting pitcher Trey Lambert. Two batters later, first baseman Cody Holder lined his second home run of the season over the left field wall for a 3-2 VMI edge.
After the next two batters, second baseman Drew Bryan and Tarsovich, each walked, Angus tripled to score both runners, upping the Keydets' advantage to 5-2. Dickinson followed with a sacrifice fly to push the home team's lead to four runs, 6-2.
During the fourth, Liberty cut into the VMI advantage with two runs. With one out and Grauer on board after a leadoff walk, Close lined a 2-1 pitch over the right-center field fence for an opposite field home run, halving the Keydets' lead to 6-4.
Liberty went back in front in the contest on Grauer's grand slam in the fifth. With one out, right fielder Ashton Perritt beat out an infield single and second baseman Bryan Aanderud walked. Wimmer was then hit by a pitch to fill the bases with Flames. Grauer followed with his second home run of the game, giving Liberty an 8-6 lead.
In the home half of the frame, VMI countered with a run to close within one run. Dickinson was hit by a pitch and catcher Matt Winn singled to open the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Sheldon Shifflett, Lopez singled to plate a run, slicing the Flames' edge to 8-7.
After posting four in the fifth, the Flames sent 10 men to the plate and scored five runs in the sixth to extend their lead. Third baseman Jake Kimble began the inning with a walk and two batters later, scored on a triple off the right-center field wall by Perritt.
Two batters later, Wimmer drew a two-out walk to put runners at the corners. A wild pitch by Keydet reliever Andrew Montague allowed Perritt to score, upping the Liberty advantage to 10-7. After the next batter Grauer was hit by pitch, center fielder Ryan Cordell followed with a RBI single for an 11-7 lead. Later in the frame, Grauer scored on a wild pitch and Cordell plated a run on a Keydet throwing error to stretch their lead to what proved to be the final score of 13-7.
Liberty reliever Jared Lyons moves to 2-0 on the year. Taking over in the second inning, Lyons gave up two runs on four hits over 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck out four and did not walk a batter.
VMI starter Reid Garrett drops to 2-7 on the season. Garrett allowed seven runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two batters.
Liberty collected nine hits in the contest. Seven of the Flames' hits in the contest were for extra bases. Perritt had two hits in the game. Aanderud singled in the first inning to extend his career-high hit streak to 16 games. The streak is the longest by a Flame this season. VMI had eight hits.
Liberty returns home to host the Maryland Terrapins, Wednesday. First pitch at Liberty Baseball Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m.