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Liberty Completes Doubleheader Sweep
The Liberty Flames scored seven runs in the first inning and never looked back, downing the Army Black Knights, 13-7, to sweep a doubleheader in a contest suspended Saturday due to darkness and concluded Sunday at Worthington Stadium.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the ninth, the doubleheader's second game between the two teams was suspended due to darkness with the Flames leading 13-5, Saturday evening.
Liberty moves to 8-3 on the year, while Army drops to 2-7. The suspended contest was the first at Worthington Stadium since 2006, when the Flames defeated Coastal Carolina 6-4 on April 22 in a game suspended due to rain.
After Liberty had taken game one, 11-5, the Flames took control of the doubleheader's nightcap by sending 13 men to plate during the inning, staking themselves to a 7-0 advantage. Kenneth Negron (Jr., CF, Kingwood, Texas) walked to open the game and moved to third on a throwing error by the Army third baseman on a grounder by Errol Hollinger (Jr., C, Upland, Calif.). Garrett Young then received a free pass to load the bases. Right fielder P.K. Keller (Sr., Clearwater, Fla.) singled sharply to right to bring home Negron with the contest's first run.
Aaron Grijalva (Sr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) followed with a bases-clearing triple to right-center field to quickly make it, 4-0 Liberty. The Flames' first baseman then scored the fifth run of the inning on a fielding error by the second baseman on a grounder by Doug Bream (Fr., LF, Elizabethtown, Pa.). Liberty once again loaded the bases in the frame, as Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) singled and Tommy Bussey (Jr., 2B, Boynton Beach, Fla.) was hit by a pitch.
Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) lined a single to left field to bring home Bream for a 6-0 advantage. After loading the bases for the third time, Young walked to force in the final run of the opening-inning uprising for a 7-0 lead.
Army took advantage of two Liberty errors in the sixth inning to get on the scoreboard. With one out, Clint Moore singled and advanced to third on a fielding error by Liberty shortstop Phillips. The Black Knights then scored their first run of the game, as the next batter, Chris Simmons, reached on an error. After the following batter was retired on a fly out, back-to-back RBI singles by Kevin McKague and pinch hitter David Darnell cut the Liberty edge to 7-3.
In the eighth, the homestanding Flames batted around again, extending their lead to 13-3. Keller's RBI single and a walk to Young plated the first two runs of the frame. After Grijalva also received a free pass, pinch hitter Tim Rotola (Jr., OF, Wichita, Kan.) ripped a RBI single through the middle for the third run of the inning. Two batters later, Joseph Feely (Fr., OF, Chesapeake City, Md.) received a bases-loaded walk to force home another run. Liberty then got two more runs on a fielder's choice ground ball and a throwing error.
In the top of the ninth inning, Army rallied with two runs. An infield RBI single by Black Knight pinch hitter Chris Simmons scored the first run of the frame, while a single to right field by Darnell made it, 13-5, Liberty. Play was then suspended due to darkness with the bases loaded and no outs.
Army scored two more runs when play resumed Sunday, before the regularly scheduled game between the two teams, for the final of 13-7.
Liberty starter David Stokes (Sr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) had his third-consecutive strong outing to begin the season, pitching eight innings to run his record to 3-0. The right-hander allowed three runs, all unearned, while striking out a career-high 12 batters and walking one. Stokes has yet to yield an earned run in 21 1/3 innings of work this season. Grady Ihnat (So., LHP, Simi Valley, Calif.) and Dane Beakler (So., RHP, York, Pa.) worked the ninth for the Flames.
Army had used four pitchers in the contest. Black Knight starter Joey Henshaw was knocked out of the game in the first, after retiring two batters. He falls to 0-3.