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Pitching Lifts Hawks over Flames in Game One, 5-2
The Flames' loss drops their record to 17-11 on the season, while Monmouth moves to 10-7-1 with the victory.
Immediately before the scheduled start time of 11 a.m., rain began to fall at Worthington Stadium, and the game's start time was pushed back 2 hours, 10 minutes. When the game did begin, Monmouth got on the board in the second inning. Three-consecutive infield hits loaded the bases, and after a strikeout, Hawks' second baseman Chris Collazo hit a high chopper that Liberty pitcher Michael Solbach (r-Jr., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) fielded while backpedaling off the pitcher's mound. With Solbach's momentum carrying him away from home plate, Hawks' center fielder Shawn Teters was able to score the first run of the game and give Monmouth a 1-0 lead.
That score held up until the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Monmouth designated hitter Rick Niederhaus reached on a fielding error. After a groundout to second base, left fielder Justin Braun plated Niederhaus with a single to left, giving the Hawks a 2-0 lead. Collazo then singled, and catcher John Dennis walked to load the bases. Right fielder Kyle Messineo followed with a triple to right field, scoring all three runners to increase the Hawks' lead to 5-0.
Meanwhile, Monmouth pitcher Buch did not give up a hit until the fifth inning. Derek Bennion (r-Sr., OF, Snohomish, Wash.) started the frame with a walk. One out later, catcher Errol Hollinger hit his third home run of the season, a drive over the left-field wall. It was the Flames' first hit of the day, and it cut the Monmouth lead to 5-2.
Both pitching staffs settled down after the Hollinger home run, and neither team mounted a serious scoring threat until the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Teters doubled to left-center field off Flames' reliever Andrew Wilson (So., RHP, Cary, N.C.). Niederhaus grounded to shortstop, advancing the runner to third. However, Wilson struck out the next batter to end the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth, Liberty mounted a final rally against the Hawks. With one out, Tim Nanry (Sr., OF, Rochester, N.Y.) singled off Buch for Liberty's fourth hit of the game. The Hawks' starter then walked Bennion, and pinch-hitter Cody Brown (r-So., INF, Boca Raton, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Monmouth's Justin Esposito came on to face the Flames' Hollinger, and the Liberty catcher popped out to first base to end the game.
On the mound, Solbach was the standout for the Flames, as the junior allowed just one earned run and six hits in seven innings of work. For Monmouth, Buch came up just one out shy of a complete game. In his 8 2/3 innings, he allowed just four hits and two runs, although he walked six Flames.