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Liberty Edged by No. 15 Arizona, 7-6, in 10 Innings
Arizona designated hitter Oliver Padre's single with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning scored the game-winning run from second base as the No. 15 Wildcats edged the Liberty Flames, 7-6 in 10 innings, Sunday afternoon at Kindall Field at Sancet Stadium.
With the setback, Liberty falls to 28-22 on the year, while Arizona with its fourth-straight win moves to 35-11 on the year. The loss is the sixth straight for the Flames, their longest losing streak of the season.
After Liberty stranded the go-ahead run at third base with two out in the top of the 10th inning, left fielder Bill Rhinehart singled to begin the home half of the frame and was replaced by pinch runner Hunter Pace. Two batters later, Pace moved to second as T.J. Steele was hit by a pitch. Padre followed by lining a single to center field and Pace beat the tag at plate for a 7-6 Arizona victory.
For the first time in the series, Liberty scored first in the contest, striking for five runs in the second inning. With one out, Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) singled and two batters later moved to second base on a walk to Derek Bennion (Sr., CF, Snohomish, Wash.). Both runners then advanced into scoring position on a balk and came home on a two-out single by Shawn Teufel (So., 1B, Tequesta, Fla.) for a 2-0 Liberty advantage.
The Flames continued the two-out uprising as Kenneth Negron (So., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) tripled just inside the bag down the right-field line to bring around Teufel for a 3-0 edge. Next batter, Phil John (Sr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) made it four-straight, run-scoring hits with a single to plate Negron. P.K. Keller (Jr., LF, Clearwater, Fla.) capped off the inning with RBI liner into the right center field gap for a double to give the Flames a 5-0 edge.
Arizona answered back in the bottom of the frame with five runs to knot the game up at 5-5. Right fielder Rhinehart led off the inning with a solo home run to center field, his eighth of the year. After the next batter walked, Steele connected for a two-run round tripper, his seventh of the season, to make it 5-3, Flames.
After the next two batters were retired, shortstop Robert Abel kept the frame alive with a single to right. He would move to second on a throwing error by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt and advanced to third on a wild pitch on a third strike to Diallo Fon. The wild pitch allowed Font to reach safely. Abel then scored on a balk to close the gap to 5-4. Colt Sedbrook singled to bring home Fon and tie the contest at 5-5.
Arizona went on top with a run in the sixth. Brad Glenn singled to open the frame and moved to third on a double by Steele. Padre then lifted a sacrifice fly to left to put the Wildcats on top, 6-5.
Liberty came right back in the top of the seventh to knot the contest once again. Teufel beat out an infield single to begin the inning and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Negron. Two batters later, Keller laced a single in front of the left fielder to plate Teufel, evening the score at 6-6.
In the eighth, Arizona threatened. C.J. Ziegler singled to open the stanza and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. However, Flames reliever Tim John (Sr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) retired the next two Wildcat batters to strand the runner.
Liberty got the go ahead run to second in the top of the ninth. With two out, Negron lined a double into the right-center gap, chasing Arizona reliever David Coulon. However, Daniel Schlereth came on and induced the next batter to pop out to the second baseman to end the frame.
In the bottom of the inning, the Wildcats again got a runner to second base with one out, but John was up to the task by striking out the next batter and getting the follow batter to ground out to first base.
Liberty starter Michael Solbach (R-Jr., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) allowed six runs, five earned, on eight hits in six innings of work. Tim John followed and picked up the loss to even his record at 2-2, yielding one run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. Schlereth, the third pitcher of the afternoon for Arizona, picked up the win, giving up one hit in 1 1/3 frames of relief to run his mark to 2-0.
Sedbrook led all hitters in the game with a 3-for-4 afternoon for the Wildcats. Rhinehart and Steele also added two hits apiece for Arizona. Four Flames each had two hits in the game.
Liberty now returns home on Friday for an important three-game Big South Series with the Winthrop Eagles. Game time for the series' opener on Friday is scheduled for 4 p.m.