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Six-Run Seventh Inning Pushes Flames Past Hawks, 11-6
With the non-conference win, Liberty moves to 18-12 overall, while Monmouth falls to 11-8-1 overall.
The Hawks started quickly beginning with a first-inning run. Kyle Messineo tripled off the right field wall to open the game and scored the game's first run when the Liberty second baseman overthrew third, allowing him to score. The next three Monmouth batters reached, loading the bases with no one out, but Flames starter Tyler Light (So., RHP, San Bernardino, Calif.) did not allow any further damage in the inning by retiring the next three hitters.
In the second inning, the Hawks upped their advantage to 2-0. John Dennis doubled to lead off the frame and advanced to third on a single by Messineo. Dennis then scored when Liberty attempted to catch Messineo stealing at second base.
Liberty sliced into the Monmouth lead with a run in the bottom of the third frame. David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) walked to begin the home half of the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aaron Phillips (Jr., SS, Claremore, Okla.). After a fly out gave the Flames two outs, Garrett Young (Jr., CF, Fountain Valley, Calif.) roped a triple off the right-center field wall to chase Giammaresi home and make it, 2-1.
The Flames took their first lead of the afternoon during the following inning. Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.) led off the fourth inning by striking out, but the ball got by the Hawk catcher, allowing him to reach. Cody Brown (R-So., 1B, Boca Raton, Fla.) and Derek Bennion (Sr., LF, Snohomish, Wash.) followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases with no one out. The next batter, P.K. Keller (Jr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.), lifted a sacrifice fly, plating Nanry to knot the game at two apiece. Brown then gave Liberty a 3-2 edge, scoring on a RBI ground out by Giammaresi.
Monmouth tied the contest in the top of the fifth. Messineo, who reached base in each of his five plate appearances on the day, walked with one out and advanced to third base on a two-out single by Andy Meyers. Shawn Teters then beat out a high chopper behind the third base bag for an infield single, allowing Messineo to score his second run of the day and tie the game, 3-3.
In the bottom of the frame, Liberty went back on top, 4-3. Young sent a blast over the left field wall to give Liberty the edge once again. The solo home run was the outfielder's fifth of the season.
After a scoreless sixth, the Hawks took back the lead with three tallies in their half of the seventh. Dennis and Messineo opened the inning with back-to-back infield singles. Kyle Higgins moved the two runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Meyers followed with a single to plate Dennis to knot the back-and-forth contest for the third time. Teters then singled to bring home Messineo for a 5-4, Monmouth edge. Meyers added to the advantage as Rick Niederhaus singled him home for the Hawks' third-straight one-base hit with one out, giving Monmouth a 6-4 advantage.
The Flames erupted in the bottom of the seventh to put the contest away. Liberty sent 11 batters to the plate in the frame, scoring six runs on three hits. Kenneth Negron (So., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) led off the uprising by slapping a single to left field and moved to second on a walk to Young. Errol Hollinger (So., C, Upland, Calif.), the next hitter, ripped a single down the left field line, scoring Negron to cut the Hawk advantage to 6-5. After a pitching change, Nanry became the fourth straight Flame to reach base, walking to fill the bases. Brown was then hit by a pitch by reliever Matt Marc-Aurele, the fourth Monmouth hurler on the day, to tie the game for the fourth time at 6-6. Liberty took the lead for good as the next hitter, Bennion, grounded into a fielder's choice to bring home Hollinger.
With two outs, the Flames continued their outburst as Giammaresi walked to reload the bases and Phillips was hit by a pitch to force in a run for an 8-6 lead. Negron, hitting for the second time in the frame, greeted new Hawk hurler Brad Bach with a single to left to score two more runs and cap the scoring in the inning.
Liberty added an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Bennion for the final, 11-6 count.
Flames starter Light went 6 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 12 hits. Andrew Wilson (So., RHP, Cary, N.C.), who entered the game in the seventh frame with runners on the corners and one out and induced a double play grounder to end the threat, evened his record at 1-1. The reliever allowed one hit over the last 2 2/3 innings. Kyle Breese, the third of six Monmouth pitchers in the contest, took the loss to fall to 0-3.
Liberty had four players with two hits in the game. Young, who hit a home run and a triple, Bennion, Nanry and Negron, had two hits apiece for the Flames. Myers was 4-for-4 and Messineo was 3-for-3 for the Hawks.
Liberty continues its seven-game homestand on Tuesday by hosting the Tribe of William & Mary in a non-conference match-up. First pitch at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m.