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Four-Run Fourth Pushes Liberty Past High Point, 6-4
The Liberty Flames erased a High Point Panthers' advantage with four runs in the fourth inning, en route to a 6-4 win in a Big South Conference contest, Friday night at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Catcher Danny Grauer had two hits, including a two-run triple, to extend this career-high hitting streak to 11 games in the contest. Third baseman Dylan Allen also had two hits and drove in a run in the game for the Flames, which was played before a stadium-record 2,742 fans.
Liberty moves to 3-1 in Big South Conference play and 16-7 overall. The Flames have won 10 of their last 11 games. High Point drops to 2-2 in conference and 12-9 overall.
Both teams plated runs in the opening inning. The Panthers struck for two in the top of the first. With two men on, first baseman Spencer Angelis singled to score the first run of the game. Designated hitter Brenden Rivera followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly for a 2-0 edge.
Liberty answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, second baseman Ryan Seiz doubled into the left field corner and scored on a single by designated hitter Becker Sankey to make, 2-1, High Point.
The Panthers extended its lead to 4-1 in the second. Shortstop Tony Fortier-Bensen reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Kyle Bradnenburg. After right fielder Dane McDemott beat out a single to put runners on the corners, catcher Josh Spano singled through the left side of the infield to bring home Fortier-Bensen for a 3-1 advantage. Angelis followed with a RBI ground out for a 4-1 lead.
Liberty took the lead for good with four runs in the fourth. Shortstop Dalton Britt walked and first baseman Alex Close doubled to open the inning. Grauer followed by tripling to the warning track in center field to clear the bases, cutting the Panthers' advantage to 4-3. Allen followed by lining an opposite field double down the left field line to tie the game at 4-4. Two batters later, left fielder Nick Lacik lifted a sacrifice fly to score Allen and give Liberty a 5-4 advantage, which they never relinquished.
In seventh, the Flames added an insurance run. With two outs, Sankey was hit by a pitch. Britt followed by ripping a triple off the wall in right field, upping Liberty's lead to 6-4.
High Point loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Flames' reliever Ashton Perritt retired the next two Panthers to earn his seventh save of the year and seal the 6-4 win.
Liberty starting pitcher Trey Lambert moves to 5-1 on the season. The right-hander gave up four runs on 12 hits over 6 1/3 innings of work. He struck out three batters and walked one.
High Point right-hander John McGillicuddy drops to 2-2 on the year. He gave up six runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five batters and walked one.
Liberty collected 10 hits in the game. Close and Seiz joined Allen and Grauer with two hits apiece. High Point had 13 hits. Center fielder Josh Greene paced all hitters in the contest with three hits.
Liberty and High Point will meet again in the middle game of their three-game conference series, tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.