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Eight-Run Second Inning Fuels Liberty's Victory over George Mason
The non-conference victory moves the Flames' to 27-16 overall season record, while the Patriots drop to 21-20. Liberty had 20 hits in game, the first time the Flames reached the mark since their school record-breaking 28 hits against Richmond, Feb. 16, at the Crab House Shootout in Charleston, S.C.
The Flames sent 12 hitters to plate, erupting for eight runs for an 8-0 advantage in the second inning. The eight-run outburst is the biggest in an inning for Liberty this season. At one point during the frame, the Flames had six consecutive hits, including five straight run producers.
Derek Bennion (Sr., LF, Snohomish, Wash.) began the Liberty outburst by beating out a bunt single, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on a single by Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.), the first of four RBI singles in the inning. After David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) singled, Nate Thompson ripped a double just inside the bag at third to chase home Grijalva. Liberty would go up, 3-0, when the next batter, Kenneth Negron (So., 2B, Kingwood, Texas), dropped a single in front of the left fielder to cash in Giammaresi. Keller (Jr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) and Garrett Young (Jr., CF, Fountain Valley, Calif.) followed with back-to-back RBI singles for a 5-0 Flames advantage. The sixth run of the inning came when Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.) grounded into a fielder's choice.
Up for the second time in the home half of the second, Bennion continued the hit parade with a single up the middle to chase George Mason starter Mike Modica. Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) then greeted reliever Ryan Brecko by lacing a two-out liner into the right field corner for a two-run double and giving Liberty an 8-0 lead.
The two teams exchanged runs in the third inning. In the top of the frame, Chris Fournier brought home Spencer Wiggins with George Mason's first run of the contest. Liberty countered on a Giammaresi double and a sacrifice fly by Negron.
The Patriots cut into the deficit in the top half of the fifth. Left fielder Scott Kreiger and first baseman Justin Bour had back-to-back one-out RBI singles to make it, 9-3, Liberty.
In the bottom of the frame, the Flames made sure the game was out of reach with four more runs. Giammaresi once again doubled and scored on a single by Negron. Keller then followed by blasting his first home run of the season over the stadium scoreboard in left field with two men on for a three-run round tripper to cap the Liberty scoring on the afternoon.
George Mason would plate two more runs in the seventh on a home run by catcher Jason Bour with his brother Justin Bour on base for the final outcome. It was the catcher's 10th home run of the season.
On a staff day for each side, Liberty starter Andrew Wilson (So., RHP, Cary, N.C.), one of five Flames hurlers to pitch in the contest, picked up the win to run his record to 3-2 on the year. George Mason's Modica, one of five mound men for the Patriots, took the loss to fall to 3-5.
Young's 4-for-5 afternoon paced Liberty's 20-hit attack. Negron, Giammaresi and Bennion added three hits apiece in the game, while Keller had two hits with an RBI single and a three-run home run, Gaillard also had two hits in the contest, including the two-run double in the second. Seven George Mason hitters each had two hits in the game.
Liberty now embarks on a seven-game road trip, beginning Friday with the first of a three-game Big South series in Conway, S.C., against No. 19 Coastal Carolina. Game time Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m.