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Seniors Help No. 22 Liberty Past Coastal Carolina on Senior Night, 4-3
Senior catcher Danny Grauer had a two-run double in a three-run sixth inning and senior pitchers Blake Fulghum and Matt Marsh both played key roles, as the No. 22 Liberty Flames defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 4-3, on Senior Night, Saturday evening at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
With one out in the sixth and Liberty trailing 3-1, Grauer lined a double off the left field wall, plating two runs to tie the contest. He then scored what proved to be the winning run, when first baseman Alex Close followed with a single for a 4-3 Liberty lead.
Fulghum runs his record to 4-2 on the year. The senior gave up three runs on 10 hits over seven innings, before leaving in the eighth with a runner aboard for Marsh. Fulghum struck out six and walked two batters.
Marsh, who has not allowed a run since Feb. 18, pitched two scoreless innings for his first save of the year. The senior has not allowed a run over his last 23 2/3 innings pitched.
Liberty moves to 37-11 overall and 21-1 in Big South action. The Flames have won 19 straight Big South Conference contests, a program record. Coastal Carolina drops to 22-28 overall and 12-11 in Big South action.
The visiting Chanticleers opened the contest with two runs in their first at bat of the night. With one out, shortstop Michael Paez singled and stole second. Two batters later, third baseman Zach Remillard lined a two-out double into the left field corner, scoring Paez for a 1-0 advantage. After catcher Tyler Chadwick walked, right fielder Kyle Jackson singled, plating Remillard for a 2-0 lead.
Liberty struck for its first run of the contest in the fourth. Second baseman Ryan Seiz led off the inning with a double. After Chanticleers starting pitcher Austin Kerr was able to retire the next two batters, Close lined a run-producing double into the left field corner, slicing the Coastal Carolina edge to 2-1.
In their next at bat, the Chanticleers answered with a run to extend their advantage back to two runs. Center fielder Steven Whitaker reached on an infield single to open the top of the fifth. Two batters later, Paez singled, moving Whitaker to second. Second baseman Jake Kane was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out. Remillard followed with a sacrifice fly, upping the Coastal Carolina lead to 3-1.
Liberty took the lead for good in the sixth. Right fielder Will Shepherd began the home half of the inning with a single and advanced to second when Chanticleers left fielder Conner Owings dropped a fly ball off the bat of Seiz. After a bunt by designated hitter Becker Sankey moved both runners into scoring position, Grauer sent his double off the wall to tie the game at 3-3. Close followed with a single to give the Flames a 4-3 advantage.
Kerr falls to 2-2 on the season. The right-hander gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Liberty had seven hits in the contest, with Shepherd and Close collecting two hits apiece. Coastal Carolina had 10 hits. Designated hitter Riley Norton had two hits for the Chanticleers.
Before the game, the five seniors on the Liberty roster playing their final regular season games in a Liberty uniform at Liberty Baseball Stadium this weekend were honored. Besides Fulghum, Grauer and Marsh, right-hander Trey Lambert, who ran his record to 10-1 on the season in last night's win, and outfielder Nick Lacik, who had four hits last night, were recognized.
Liberty and Coastal Carolina will meet in the final game of their conference series, tomorrow at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.