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Close Belts Two Home Runs, Britt Adds Four Hits as Liberty Downs UNCW
First baseman Alex Close hit two home runs and third baseman Dalton Britt had four hits, powering the Liberty Flames past the host UNCW Seahawks, 14-6, Saturday afternoon in game two of the Battle of the Beach at Brooks Stadium.
Paced by Close and Britt, Liberty collected season-highs in runs with 14 and hits with 17.
Close drove in a season-high three runs with his first two home runs of the season in the contest. Each of the junior's home runs came with two outs, connecting for a solo round tripper in the fourth and a two-run shot in the seventh. He also had a single to collect the first three-hit game of his career.
Britt posted the first four-hit game of his career in the Liberty victory. The third baseman was 4-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI. Meanwhile, catcher Danny Grauer also drove in three runs with two doubles.
Liberty evens its record at 3-3 on the year. The victory was the second of the day for the Flames at the Battle of the Beach. Liberty defeated Ohio, 8-5, in the first game of the tournament earlier. UNCW drops to 1-3 on the season.
Liberty struck for a run in its opening at bat. With one out, left fielder Nick Lacik was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, right fielder Andrew Yacyk lined a double into the left field corner, plating Lacik for a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Close extended the Liberty lead. With two outs, the first baseman ripped a solo home run over the left field fence, giving the Flames a 2-0 edge.
Liberty stretched its advantage with a four-run uprising in its next at bat. Britt led off the fifth inning with a sharply hit single back through the middle of the diamond. Two batters later, center fielder Ashton Perritt split the right-center field gap with a double, scoring Britt with the first run of the inning.
After advancing to third on an infield single by Lacik, Perrit came home on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Ryan Seiz for a 4-0 Liberty edge. Yacyk followed with a single, and he and Lacik scored on a double off the right field wall by Grauer to give the Flames a 6-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, UNCW got on the scoreboard with two runs. Seahawks designated hitter Nick Monroe opened the inning by hitting the first home run of his college career over the left field wall. Later, catcher Drew Farber ended up on third with two outs, when Liberty's Yayck dropped his fly ball to right field. Shortstop Terrence Connelly followed with a run-scoring single back through the middle of the infield, cutting the Flames' advantage to 6-2.
The host Seahawks inched closer with a run in the sixth. Second baseman Luis Renvil reached on an infield single off of Liberty starting pitcher Trey Lambert and advance to third on a double lined down the left field line by third baseman Ryan LaGrange, opening the inning. A sacrifice fly by first baseman Corey Dick plated Renvil, trimming the Flames' advantage to 6-3.
lose struck again with two outs in the seventh. With Seiz aboard, the Liberty first baseman smashed a 2-0 offering over the center field wall, upping the Flames' lead to 8-3.
Liberty scored six runs, batting around in the ninth. A double by Grauer, a single by Britt, a pinch hit single by Dylan Allen, a ground out by pinch hitter Jake Barbee, an infield single by Will Shepherd and a wild pitch plated runs for the Flames.
UNCW pushed three runs across in the bottom of the ninth for the final outcome.
Liberty's Lambert gave the Flames eight strong innings, evening his record at 1-1. The right-hander allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits over eight innings. He struck out six and walked one batter.
UNCW starting pitcher Mat Batts falls to 0-1 on the season. The 2013 CAA Pitcher of Year gave up six runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.
UNCW finished the game with eight hits.
Liberty will play two games tomorrow in the final day of the Battle of the Beach tournament. The Flames will meet the Ohio Bobcats at 10 a.m. and later, will then play UNCW in the third game of the day.