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Young's Double Pushes Flames Past Albany, 5-4
After rain suspended play for over six hours, a double in the seventh inning by Garrett Young broke a 4-4 tie, propelling the Liberty Flames past the Albany Great Danes, 5-4, Saturday evening at Jack Russell Stadium.
The victory moves Liberty to 2-0 on the season, while Albany falls to 0-2. The contest which started at 10 a.m. was suspended due to heavy rainfall in the Clearwater area in the bottom of the third inning. The contest resumed six and a half hours later.
Knotted at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh frame, Liberty second baseman Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) was hit by a pitch by Great Dane reliever Steve Gregory with one out. After a fly out by catcher Errol Hollinger (Jr., Upland, Calif.), Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) ripped a 3-2 pitch down the left field line for a double, plating Negron with the winning run.
When the contest got underway in the morning, Albany, the visitors on the score board, jumped to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the second inning. Left fielder Gary Pitcheralle tripled to right field to drive in shortstop Sean Donovan, who had walked, for the first run of contest with one out. Third baseman Zac Halloran followed with an RBI double to right center for a quick 2-0 advantage. After a ground out moved Halloran to third base, he scored on a two-out single by catcher Tom Zink for a 3-0 lead.
The Flames began to cut into the Great Dane advantage in an interesting home half of the third inning. Shortstop Aaron Phillips (Sr., Claremore, Okla.) double to right field to lead off the frame. Center fielder Tim Rotola (Jr., Wichita, Kan.) followed with a two-base hit to left to plate Phillips, cutting the Liberty deficit to 3-1. The skies then opened and after a 45-minute rain delay, the game was suspended.
Once the rain showers moved through the area, the two squads resumed play at 5:30 in the evening with Rotola returning to second base.
New Albany pitcher Cory Warrings had control problems, walking Negron and Rotola, when play was restarted. The two Liberty base runners then pulled off a double steal to move to into scoring position at second and third. Negron then scored on wild pitch to slice the Great Dane advantage to 3-2.
The Flames took a short-lived 4-3 lead in the sixth frame. With one out, Aaron Grijalva (Sr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) drew a walk, followed by a double off the right-field wall by P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.), playing before his hometown crowd. The next batter, left fielder Joseph Feely (Fr., Chesapeake City, Md.), singled sharply up the middle to plate Grijalva, tying the contest at 3-3. Cody Brown's (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) fielder's choice ground ball then scored Keller for a 4-3 Flames lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, a solo home run by Ryan Gugel knotted the contest at 4-4, only to see Liberty strike back in the bottom of the stanza with Young's RBI double.
Flame starter Ryan Page (Sr., LHP, Cranberry Twp., Pa.) allowed three runs on five hits, striking out two and walking two, over three innings of work. Tyler Light (Jr., RHP, San Bernardino, Calif.) took over on the hill when the contest resumed, allowing one run on two hits in 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out six Great Danes and walked one. Dustin Umberger (Jr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) recorded his first victory of the year, shutting down Albany over the last 2 2/3 frames. The reliever gave up two hits, while striking out four and walking three.
Great Dane reliever Gregory, the third Albany pitcher in the game, took the loss to drop to 0-1.
Liberty finishes play in the Clearwater Invitational tomorrow morning at Jack Russell Stadium. The Flames will face Iowa in the tournament's fifth game. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.