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14-Hit Attack Powers Flames Past UMBC, 10-2
The Flames' win in the non-conference game moves their record to 15-8 on the season, while UMBC drops to 5-9 on the campaign.
After the Retrievers stranded two men on base in the top half of the opening inning, the Flames got off to a quick start in the bottom half. Liberty's leadoff man, left fielder Kenneth Negron (So., OF, Kingwood, Texas), walked to open the frame. One out later, center fielder Garrett Young (Jr., OF, Fountain Valley, Calif.) also walked, and designated hitter Tim Nanry (Sr., OF, Rochester, N.Y.) followed with a double off the wall in left field. Nanry was thrown out attempting to advance to third on the play, but Negron and Young both scored on the hit, giving Liberty the early, 2-0 lead.
UMBC got on the board in the top of the second. Catcher Tom Meaney led off the inning with a double down the left-field line, which turned out to be UMBC's only extra-base hit of the day. One out later, shortstop Mark Lemon flied to center, scoring Meaney to make it a 2-1 game. After the sacrifice fly, Liberty's Stokes (Jr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) settled down and gave up just one hit over the next five innings.
Meanwhile, the Flames added to their advantage in the third. Young singled with two outs to start the rally. Nanry followed with a home run to left, his fourth of the 2007 campaign, scoring Young and upping Liberty's advantage to 4-1. Following the Nanry blast, right fielder P.K. Keller (Jr., OF, Clearwater, Fla.) and third baseman David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) walked. UMBC starter Will Delawter then gave up an RBI single to Flames' catcher Nate Thompson (R-Fr., C, Stoneville, N.C.), scoring Keller to make it 5-1.
Liberty increased its lead even further in the sixth inning. With one out, Thompson hit his third double of the season, a drive to center field. Second baseman Tommy Bussey (So., INF, Boynton Beach, Fla.) followed with an RBI double, and one out later, Negron drove in the Liberty infielder with an RBI single to left. The sixth-inning outburst gave the Flames a 7-1 lead after the frame's conclusion.
The Retrievers tallied a single run in their half of the eighth. Left-hander Grady Ihnat (Fr., LHP, Simi Valley, Calif.) relieved Stokes, and was greeted with a leadoff single by UMBC left fielder Geoff Lang. After a flyout to left field, Ihnat walked second baseman Joe Fowler to move Lang to
second base. The Flames then committed throwing errors on back-to-back plays, allowing Lang to score and cut the Liberty lead to 7-2.
The Flames immediately answered in the bottom half of the frame. Bussey opened the inning by reaching on an error. Flames' shortstop Aaron Phillips (Jr., INF, Claremore, Okla.), playing in place of the injured Patrick Gaillard, was hit in the back by a pitch, and Negron followed with his third hit of the contest to load the bases. The next batter, Shawn Teufel (So., 1B, Tequesta, Fla.), greeted UMBC reliever Tom Schlein with a sacrifice fly, scoring Bussey with the Flames' eighth run of the day.
Derek Bennion (R-Sr., OF, Snohomish, Wash.), who had entered the game in center field in the seventh, followed the sacrifice fly with a single to right, loading the bases once again. After a pop-up to first base, Keller singled up the middle to score Phillips and Negron, accounting for the game's final runs. Keller, who had been absent from the lineup for the past 10 days due to illness, had three hits on the day, scored a run, and drove in two.
Keller, Nanry, Negron, and Thompson all had multiple-hit performances for Liberty on the afternoon. In his return to the lineup after missing nearly 10 days due to injury and illness, center fielder Young had a hit, drew a walk and scored two runs. On the mound, Stokes went seven strong innings, giving up just four hits, three of them singles. The junior right-hander struck out three batters and did not issue a walk on the day.
The Flames, who have won three of their last four games, will return to action on Friday afternoon as they play their first Big South Conference road games of the season. Liberty will travel to High Point, N.C., to take on the Panthers of High Point in a three-game weekend series. Game time for Friday's series opener at High Point's Erath Field is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.