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Stokes Handcuffs Hawkeyes in 3-1 Victory
Winning all three of its contests at the Clearwater Invitational, Liberty begins the Jim Toman era 3-0. Iowa falls to 1-2.
Stokes, in his first outing of the season, kept the Hawkeyes off balance for 7 1/3 frames. The right-hander yielded one unearned run and six hits. He struck out seven and walked none.
Dane Beakler (So., RHP, York, Pa.) entered for Stokes in the eighth with runners at the corners and one out. The right-hander struck out the first batter he faced, triggering a double play. On the play, the Hawkeye baserunner at third was thrown out at home on a steal attempt, ending the inning. The reliever pitched out of another jam in the ninth to record his first save of the year.
The teams traded scores in the contest's opening inning. With one out, Liberty, the visiting team on the scoreboard, scored the game's first run. Errol Hollinger (Jr., Upland, Calif.) walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The next batter, Aaron Grijalva (Sr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.), then lined a single to left, plating Hollinger.
In the bottom of the frame, Iowa took advantage of a Flame miscue to even the score at 1-1. With one out, an error by the Flames shortstop Aaron Phillips (Sr., Claremore, Okla.) allowed Justin O'Toole to reach. He moved to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a single by center fielder Caleb Curry.
After both Stokes and Hawkeye starter Mike Jacobs matched scoreless innings through the fourth, Liberty went on top, 2-1, with a run in the fifth stanza. Third baseman Cody Brown (Sr., Boca Raton, Fla.) singled to lead off the frame and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Rotola (Jr., CF, Wichita, Kan.). Phillips followed by ripping a single up the middle to cash in Brown, giving the Flames a one-run lead.
Protecting the narrow edge in the eighth, Beakler was summoned from the bullpen with Hawkeyes on first and third and one out. The sophomore right-hander struck out Iowa designated hitter Ben Geelan. Both runners took off on an attempted steal, and the Flames were able to throw Kevin Hoef, the runner on third, out at the plate. Hollinger threw the ball to Phillips, who caught the runner at first in a run down, and the shortstop gunned down Hoef when he tried to score the tying run.
In the top of the ninth, Clearwater native P.K. Keller (Sr., RF) added an insurance run to give Liberty a two-run cushion, 3-1. Keller slammed a solo home run over the left field wall for his first home run of the season, leading off the frame.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Iowa loaded the bases against Beakler with two outs, but the right-hander induced Hoef to fly out to right field to end the threat.
Phillips had two of Liberty's eight hits during the contest. Curry and Hoef had two hits apiece for Iowa.
The Flames travel across the Commonwealth of Virginia on Tuesday for a contest at Norfolk State. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.