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No. 3 Liberty Blanks No. 2 Winthrop, 11-0, to Advance to Big South Championship
With the victory, Liberty improves to 36-24 and advances to tomorrow's conference championship game at 1 p.m. against the No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. It will be the seventh Big South Championship game appearance for the Flames, tying Liberty for second in all-time in conference title game appearances.
The Flames jumped on the scoreboard first with a run in the second inning. With one out, Cody Brown (R-So., 1B, Boca Raton, Fla.) singled through the right side and advanced to second when Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) was hit by a pitch. Nate Thompson followed with a double to score Brown and Liberty went up, 1-0.
In the third, Liberty extended its advantage to 3-0. Kenneth Negron (So., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) walked and Phil John (Sr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) singled to lead off the frame. Two batters later, P.K. Keller (Jr., LF, Clearwater, Fla.) slammed a double into the right-center field gap, plating both runners.
Winthrop threatened in the fourth and fifth innings as the Eagles advanced a runner to third base in both frames. However, Liberty starter Solbach (R-Jr., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) stranded each runner to keep the Eagles scoreless.
The Flames added to their advantage in the sixth. Keller singled to begin the inning and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Gaillard then cashed him in with a RBI single to center to make it, 4-0, Liberty. After the next batter flew out, David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) blasted a two-run home run over the right field wall for a 6-0 Liberty advantage. It was the Flames third baseman's third round tripper of the year.
In the seventh, Liberty broke the game open by capitalizing on two errors for three runs. After Negron walked and John singled to open the frame, Keller knocked in Negron with a RBI grounder and reached on a fielding error to make it, 7-0. Later in the frame, Gaillard rapped a two-run single for a 9-0 cushion.
Liberty added two more in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Shawn Teufel (So., 1B, Tequesta, Fla.) and a solo home run by Gaillard, his third of the season.
Solbach runs his mark to 7-2 on the season, pitching seven scoreless frames. The junior allowed four hits, while striking out four and walking one. Grady Ihnat (Fr., LHP, Simi Valley, Calif.) pitched a scoreless final two innings. Winthrop starter Brett Moore, the first of three Eagle pitchers, falls to 1-2 on the year, after giving up three runs on three hits in two innings.
Gaillard went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI and John went 3-for-4 and scored twice to pace the Flames. Phil Carey had two of Winthrop's four hits on the night.