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Flames Down Patriots, 5-4
With the non-conference victory, the Flames move to 17-10 on the season, while the Patriots drop to 11-13.
Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, only to see George Mason come back with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) doubled into the left centerfield gap with one out and scored the first run of the contest when the next batter Errol Hollinger (So., C, Upland, Calif.) singled.
In the bottom of the inning, the Patriots opened their half of the frame with three-straight singles to plate a run. Justin Bour's single chased home Chris Romanov to tie the game at 1-1. Mike Laird followed with a sacrifice fly to left to score Chris Henderson and give George Mason a 2-1 advantage.
The Flames plated three in their next at bat in the third inning for a 4-2 edge. With one out, Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) walked and advanced to third on a single to right field by Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.). P.K. Keller (Jr., LF, Clearwater, Fla.) then singled to bring home Grijalva, knotting the contest at 2-2. Derek Bennion (Sr., CF, Snohomish, Wash.) followed with a sacrifice fly to deliver Nanry with the second run of the frame and put Liberty on top, 3-2. With the next batter, Giammaresi, at the plate, a pick off attempt of Keller at first got away, allowing him to move to second base. Giammaresi promptly singled to left to score the runner and give the Flames a 4-2 lead.
The Patriots used an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning to slice the Liberty lead in half. Scott Kreiger drew a two-out walk and used a delayed steal to take second base. On the attempt to catch Kreiger at second, the throw from the catcher got through to the outfield, allowing the runner to advance to third. Kreiger then scored on a passed ball to cut the Flames' edge to 4-3.
Liberty extended its advantage in the top half of the seventh. Nanry ripped a double past the third base bag to open the inning. Two batters later, Bennion singled sharply to center to score Nanry and make it, 5-3 Liberty.
George Mason closed the gap back to one run at 5-4 in the bottom half of the inning. Dan Palumbo was hit by a pitch to start the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Spencer Wiggins, singled to right to place runners at the corners and Chris Fournier followed with a run-scoring single. However, with runners at second and third bases and one out, reliever Ryan Page (Jr., LHP, Cranberry Twp., Pa.) was able to end the threat by retiring the next two Patriot hitters.
In the bottom of the ninth, George Mason had runners on first and second with two outs, but Tim John (Sr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) out the next batter to close out the inning and seal the Liberty victory.
Starter David Stokes (Jr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) gave the Flames another solid outing, as the right-hander ran his record to 5-3 on the year. He allowed four runs on six hits, striking out four and walking two over six innings. Page replaced Stokes after one batter in the seventh and pitched a scoreless 2 2/3 innings. John entered and recorded the last out for his third save of the season.
Phil John (Sr., RF, Linwood, N.J.), Giammaresi, Keller and Nanry each recorded a pair of base hits, sparking the Flames' 11-hit attack.
The Flames return home on Saturday to host the Monmouth Hawks in a doubleheader. The first game at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 11 a.m.