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Flames Edged in Ninth at VCU, 5-4
With its first road setback of 2008, Liberty drops to 6-2. VCU moves to 2-6. Both Flame losses have come by one run this season.
Trailing 3-0, Liberty battled back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth inning. P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) began the uprising with a lead-off home run, his second of the year. After a VCU pitching change, Aaron Grijalva (Sr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) and Doug Bream (Fr., LF, Elizabethtown, Pa.) reached on back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on a balk. Two batters later, Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Grijalva and slice the Ram edge to 3-2.
The next two Liberty batters walked to load the bases with two outs. Catcher Errol Hollinger (Jr., C. Upland, Calif.) then lined a two-run single to left field to give the Flames a 4-3 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Matt Leskiw singled to open the frame and later scored on a single by Kwane Evans to knot the contest at 4-4. Evans then advanced to second base and third base on a pair of wild pitches. Shortstop Chris Jackson followed with a single to center, scoring Evans and giving VCU a 5-4 victory.
Liberty reliever Dustin Umberger (Jr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) moves to 1-1 on the season. The right-hander, the last of three Flame hurlers in the contest, allowed two runs on four hits and intentionally walked a batter in his 1 1/3 innings of work.
VCU reliever Darryl Stringfield moves to 1-0 on the season. He yielded three runs on three hits and walked two batters, while working the ninth frame. Ram starter Ian Thomas pitched eight innings, allowing one run and scattering eight hits.
The host Rams used back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. With two out, Kwan Evans doubled to the wall in left field and scored on a double into the left field corner by Jared Bolden.
VCU added to its advantage with a single run in the second inning. The designated hitter, R. J. Shenk, led off the frame with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Carlos Rodriguez followed with a double to left to plate Shenk for a 2-0 advantage.
The homestanding Rams extended their lead by scoring a single run for the third-consecutive frame. With one out, Evans walked and later scored on a two-out RBI single by Shenk, making it 3-0, VCU.
Liberty threatened in the fourth inning. Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) doubled to open the frame and advanced to third with two out. However, an outstanding catch by VCU left fielder Matt Leskiw on a liner above his head by Bream prevented the Flames from getting on the scoreboard and ended the inning.
Grijalva, Hollinger, Keller and Young each had two of Liberty's 11 hits. Evans paced the Rams with three hits.
Liberty returns home to Worthington Stadium tomorrow to host the Old Dominion Monarchs. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.