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Flames Down Irish in Season Opener, 6-2
Winning in head coach Jim Toman's coaching debut, the Flames move to 1-0, while the Fighting Irish fall to 0-1.
Notre Dame, the home team, jumped on the scoreboard in its first at bat of the 2008 season. Leadoff hitter Bob Lilley walked to open the inning. Two batters later, the Irish shortstop scored on a triple to right field by left fielder Ross Brezvosky for a 1-0 advantage.
Liberty took control of the contest in the top of the fourth frame. First baseman Aaron Grijalva (Sr., Redlands, Calif) drew a leadoff walk. P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) then bounced a grounder to third, which Notre Dame third baseman Jeremy Barnes fielded and threw to second base in an attempt to get Grijalva. However, the Flames' first baseman beat the throw to the bag and all Liberty runners were safe.
The next batter, Doug Bream (Fr., LF, Elizabethtown, Pa.), walked to load the bases with Flames. Third baseman David Giammaresi (Sr., Coral Springs, Fla.) then ripped Irish starter David Phelps' first pitch into the right center field gap for a double, plating Grijalva and Keller for a 2-1 Liberty lead. Shortstop Aaron Phillips (Sr., Claremore, Okla.) followed with a sacrifice bunt to score Bream with the Flames' third run of the inning. A batter later, Giammaresi scored on a RBI single by center fielder Tim Rotola (Jr., Wichita, Kan.), putting Liberty on top, 4-1.
The Flames added to their advantage with two more runs in their next at bat. After Liberty batted around in the fourth frame, Grijalva began the fifth with a single off the top of the wall in left. Keller, playing in his hometown, walked. Bream singled up the middle to plate a run and give the Flames a 5-1 edge. Keller then scored on a double play grounder to put Liberty up, 6-1.
Notre Dame plated a run in the eighth inning on a walk and a RBI single for the final margin of 6-2.
Liberty starter Clarence Nicely (Jr., RHP, Milton, W.Va.) picked up the win in his first appearance in a Flames uniform. The right-hander went six innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out three and walking one. Dane Beakler (So., RHP, York, Pa.) followed with two innings of relief, yielding a run on one hit, striking out one and walking three. Dustin Umberger (Jr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Irish starter Phelps took the loss. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits, striking out two and walking three in 4 2/3 innings.
Bream and Liberty second baseman Kenneth Negron (Jr., Kingwood, Texas) both had two hits for the Flames on the afternoon. Catcher Sean Gaston was the only Notre Dame player with two hits in the contest.
The Flames continue play in the Clearwater Invitational tomorrow morning at Jack Russell Stadium. Liberty will face Albany in the tournament's third game. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.