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Perritt Propels Flames to Big South Baseball Championship Title
Big South Baseball Championship MVP Ashton Perritt singled home the winning-run in the top of the ninth, and then pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning, pushing the No. 5 seed Liberty Flames past the No. 1 seed Campbell Camels, 2-1, in the conference's title game, Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
With the win, the Flames, 34-27, claim the Big South Conference's automatic bid to an NCAA Regional and their first conference crown since 2000. Liberty will find out their regional destination, when the NCAA Regionals bracket is announced, Monday at Noon on ESPNU.
Campbell falls to 49-10 and will now wait to see if they receive an at-large selection to the NCAA Regionals on Monday.
It is only the fourth time in 25 conference tournaments that the host team has won the Big South Championship. The last host to capture the conference title was Coastal Carolina in 1992. Liberty also becomes only the second No. 5 seed to win the conference title, last accomplished by Campbell in 1990.
After five scoreless innings and the game tied at 1-1, Liberty, the visitors by virtue of its lower seed, had its first two batters in the top of the ninth reach. First baseman Alex Close opened the inning by reaching on a throwing error by Campbell shortstop Brent Graham and advancing to second as the throw rolled down the line. After pinch hitter Sammy Taormina was then hit by a pitch, Perritt ripped a single through the left side of the infield, plating Close for a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Perritt took over for Flames' starter Josh Richardson on the mound and sealed the contest with a scoreless relief inning. After sandwiching two strikeouts around a single by Camel catcher Michael DeLucia, the right-hander induced a ground out for the final out, earning his ninth save of the year and securing the title.
After Liberty stranded a runner at third base in the top of the first inning, Campbell struck for the first run of contests in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Graham reached on a fielding error by Flames' third baseman Jake Kimble and moved to second on a single by All-Big South first team second baseman Michael Felton. Designated hitter David Olson then singled to fill the bases with Camels. Big South All-Conference first team third baseman Elijah Trail followed with a fielder's choice RBI grounder, giving Campbell a 1-0 edge.
In the top of the third, Liberty shortstop Dalton Britt evened the score with his second home run of the season. Leading off the inning, the freshman shortstop ripped a 1-0 pitch into the right field bullpen to knot the game at 1-1.
The Flames loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, only to come away empty. All-Big South first team catcher Trey Wimmer led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error by left fielder Trevor Lane. Two batters, second baseman Bryan Aanderud singled to put runners at the corners with one out. After the next batter was retired, Close walked, filling the bases with two out. But, Campbell starter, all-conference first team pitcher Ryan Mattes, got the next batter to fly out to end the inning and hold the runners in place.
In the top of the fifth, Liberty once again left the bases loaded. Perritt singled with one out and the Flames filled the bases on two-out walks to Wimmer and designated hitter Danny Grauer. However, Mattes retired the next Flames' hitter on a ground out to keep the score tied at 1-1.
Richardson moves to 3-4 on the year. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits over the first eight innings. He struck out one and walked one.
Big South all-conference first team reliever Ryan Thompson takes his first loss of the year, dropping to 9-1. The third of four pitchers in the contest for Campbell, he gave up one run on two hits during one inning of work.
Liberty collected eight hits in the contest. Perritt had three hits to lead the Flames. Wimmer and Aanderud added two hits each for Liberty. Campbell recorded six hits in the game. First baseman Nick Ray had two hits for the Camels.