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Liberty Edged by Ball State, 4-3
The Ball State Cardinals jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and then held off Liberty for a 4-3 win over the Flames on Sunday, in game six of the Liberty Invitational at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Liberty stranded 11 men and left runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
The loss snaps a three-game win streak for the Flames. Liberty falls to 6-6 on the season. Ball State moves to 9-3.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the first inning. Left fielder Sean Godfrey dropped a double into the right field corner to open the contest and stole third base. Two batters later, left fielder Brandon Estep lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to take the lead.
In the second, Ball State added to its advantage. With one out, first baseman T.J. Weir reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a bunt single by center fielder Alex Call. Godfrey followed by lining a ground rule double into the right field corner, upping the Cardinals' lead to 2-0.
Both teams pushed across two runs in the fourth inning. In the top of the frame, Call singled with one out and scored on Godfrey's second home run of the year for a 4-0 edge.
Liberty answered with two runs in the home half of the inning. With one out, Seiz lined a double into the right field gap and later scored Liberty's first run of the game on a two-base hit by designated hitter Becker Sankey. After right fielder Andrew Yacyk singled to advance Sankey to third, third baseman Dalton Britt scored the runner from third with a ground out to slice the Cardinal lead to 4-2.
After coming away empty with the bases loaded in the sixth, Liberty trimmed Ball State's advantage to one in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, left fielder Nick Lacik walked. Seiz followed with a run-scoring double into the left-center field gap for a 4-3 visitor edge.
In the eighth, the Flames moved the tying run into scoring position, but were turned away. With one out, catcher Danny Grauer and Close reached on back-to-back singles. However, Cardinals reliever Zach Plesac held the runners in position, as he retired the next two Liberty batters to end the inning.
Liberty left-hander Blake Fulghum drops to 1-2 on the year. He gave up four runs on nine hits over four innings. The first of three Flames to pitch in the contest, he struck out one and walked one batter.
Ball State left-hander Clay Manering moves 1-1 on the season. He allowed two runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five batters and walked one.
Plesac, the last of three Cardinals to pitch in the game, earned his second save of the year. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out two batters and walking one.
Liberty collected 11 hits in the contest to Ball State's 12 hits. Godfrey and Call each had three hits for the Cardinals.