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Bulldogs Come Up Big in Late Innings for 9-3 Win Over Flames
The setback evens the Flames' conference mark at 1-1 and drops their overall mark to 13-8 on the year. UNC Asheville moves to 1-1 in the Big South and 6-15 overall.
The Bulldogs got on the score board first in the top half of the second inning. Edmund Locklear doubled down the right field line and later scored the contest's first run on a RBI ground out by Kyle Smith for a 1-0 advantage.
In the fourth, UNC Asheville added another run. Locklear singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rob Vernon. Smith then beat out an infield single to third, which the Liberty third baseman overthrew in an attempt to get the Bulldog second baseman. The throwing error allowed Locklear to come home and UNC Asheville to push its lead to 2-0.
Held scoreless through the first four frames, the Flames broke through against Bulldog starter Greg Baughn to take the lead. Tommy Bussey (So., 2B, Boynton Beach, Fla.) walked to lead off the home half of the fifth. He then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aaron Phillips (Jr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) and advanced to third on a single by Phil John (Sr., RF, Linwood, N.J.). After Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr., DH, Redlands, Calif.) walked to load the bases, Derrick Bennion (Sr., CF, Snohomish, Wash.) doubled into the left field corner to chase home Bussey and John and knot the contest at 2-2. Tim Nanry (Sr., LF, Rochester, N.Y.) followed with a high chopper towards third base that scored Grijalva and put Liberty in front, 3-2.
The Bulldogs would take back the lead in the seventh and never looked back. Steve Burnich opened the inning with a double and scored as next batter David Williams singled to single to tie the game at 3-3. Williams moved to second on a sacrifice bunt with one out and looked to be left when Flames reliever Ryan Page struck out the next UNC Asheville hitter. However with two out, Elliot Arrington doubled off the wall in right field to plate Williams and then scored on a single by Brett Robinson to put the Bulldogs on top, 5-3.
UNC Asheville broke the contest open with four more in the eighth. Matt Henson singled to center field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Burnich. Williams reached on an infield single, advancing Henson to third. Williams then scored on an infield single by Vernon. Arrington followed with a single to left to bring home Williams with the second run of the inning and Vernon then scored on a throwing error by the Liberty left fielder on an attempt to get Williams at the plate. The next hitter, Smith, capped the four-run frame with a RBI single for the final outcome of 9-3.
Liberty starter Dustin Umberger (So., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) allowed two runs on seven hits, while striking out four and walking one in pitching the first five innings. David Stokes (Jr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) followed and took the loss, evening his mark at 3-3 on the year, giving up two runs on three hits in one inning of work. Ryan Page (R-Jr., LHP, Cranberry Twp., Pa.) worked the seventh and eighth and allowed five runs, two earned, on seven hits. Grady Ihnat (Fr., LHP, Simi Valley, Calif.) finished for the Flames with a scoreless ninth inning.
Bulldog starter Vaughn allowed three runs on five hits, while walking five in five innings, before giving way to reliever Ben Buchanan. The right-hander yielded one hit in four scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the year and improve his record to 1-5.
Bennion was the only Liberty player with two hits in the contest, while seven UNC Asheville batters had two or more hits. Williams and Smith paced the Bulldogs by going 3-for-5 on the day.
UNC Asheville and Liberty will meet tomorrow in the final game of the three-game Big South opening series tomorrow. Game time is scheduled 2:30 p.m.