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Five-Run Fifth Propels Flames Past Buccaneers, 8-4
With the win, Liberty takes the three-game series, two games to one, after yesterday's doubleheader split between the two teams. The Flames up their overall record to 23-15 and 5-4 in the Big South Conference, while the Buccaneers drop to 15-27 overall and 2-10 in the conference play.
For the first time in the three-game set, Liberty scored first in the contest. In the bottom of the first inning, Keller (So., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) singled up the middle with one out and came around to score three batters later, as Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) ripped a two-out RBI single back through the box for a 1-0 Flames advantage.
Charleston Southern took the lead in the top of the third frame. With runners on first and second and one out, Stephen Herzog gave the Buccaneers their first runs of the day with a home run over the center field wall. It was the catcher's seventh round tripper of the year, and staked
Charleston Southern to a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Garrett Young (Jr., CF, Fountain Valley, Calif.) cut into the Flames' deficit with a solo blast over the left field wall. The center fielder's seventh home run of the season sliced the Buccaneers' edge to 3-2.
Liberty then put the game away in the fifth with five runs on six hits. David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) poked single right field to open the inning and scored two batters later, as Kenneth Negron (So., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) lined a double over the head of the center fielder. Keller followed with a single to put Flames at the corners and Young made it, 4-3 Liberty, by punching a liner through n the right side to bring home Negron. Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.) collected the Flames' fourth straight hit of the frame with a run-scoring single for a 5-3 advantage
After a pitching change, Gaillard scored Keller with a perfectly placed bunt to the right side of the infield to up Liberty's edge to 6-3. Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) continued the hit parade by lacing a liner inside the third base bag for a double to bring home Nanry with the Flame's seventh run of the afternoon.
Liberty added a bit of insurance in the sixth. Giammaresi walked to open the frame and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Errol Hollinger (So., C, Upland, Calif.). Keller then stroked a single to right field to plate Giammaresi for an 8-3 lead.
Charleston Southern scored a single run in the eighth inning on a RBI ground out for the final tally of 8-4.
Liberty starter David Stokes (Jr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) had a strong outing for the Flames, allowing three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking two. The win runs the right-hander's mark to 6-4 on the year and now leads the Liberty mound staff in victories. Cody Brown (R-So., RHP/INF, Boca Raton, Fla.) followed with an inning's work, before giving way to Tim John (Sr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.), who threw a scoreless 1 1/3 innings. Charleston Southern starter Ryan Rowland falls to 3-6, after being roughed up for seven runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
With three hits in the contest, Keller continues to swing a hot bat. The corner outfielder has collected four multi-hit games in his last five games and over the past six contests, has 12 hits in 22 at bats for a .545 average. The recent hitting surge has boosted the junior's season average from .271 to .346.
Besides Keller's three hits, Young, Grijalva and Giammaresi notched two hits apiece for the Flames. Herzog, along with teammates Wes Brundridge and Justin Fyle, had two hits for the Buccaneers.
Liberty continues its eight-game home stand on Wednesday as the Flames welcome the James Madison Dukes to Worthington Stadium for a non-conference tilt. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m.