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10-Run Inning Propels Flames to Series Sweep
With the victory, Liberty sweeps the three-game weekend series to move to 9-3 on the season. Army falls to 2-8.
The Flames opened the scoring with two runs in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Kenneth Negron (Jr., CF, Kingwood, Texas) singled and Errol Hollinger (Sr., C, Upland, Calif.) walked to begin the frame. A batter later, P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) lined a bases-clearing double to left-center field to give Liberty an early 2-0 advantage.
Army countered with single runs in both the second and third innings to knot the contest at 2-2. A leadoff double by designated hitter Brandon Hines and a two-out RBI single by Andy Ernesto provided the Black Knights' first run of the game in the second. In the third, a RBI double by J.P. Polchinski brought home Kevin McKague, who had earlier doubled, to tie the game.
The teams exchanged runs in the fourth frame. Army took advantage of a Liberty throwing error to plate a run in the top half of the inning, while David Giammaresi (Sr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) doubled and later scored on a single by Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) in the bottom of the stanza.
In the sixth, Liberty erupted for 10 runs on seven hits and took advantage of two Black Knight errors to take control of the contest, 13-3. The Flames started the inning with five-straight hits. After back-to-back singles to open the inning, Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.), who had entered the contest in the fifth, gave Liberty the lead for good with a two-run double. Tommy Bussey (Jr., 2B, Boynton Beach, Fla.) followed with a run-scoring single for a 6-3 Flames' advantage.
Liberty scored two more runs on a wild pitch and a fielding error. With no outs and the bases loaded, Keller walked, forcing in the sixth run of the inning. After another run on a fielder's choice, Brown ripped his second two-run double of the frame, giving the Flames a 12-3 lead. Bussey followed with a double, his second hit of the frame, to score Brown and put Liberty up, 13-3.
The Flames added solo runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Jeff Jefferson (Fr., RF, Danville, Va.) drove in the first run of his collegiate career with a single and in eighth, Bussey knocked in his third run of the game with a single.
Army rallied for four runs in the ninth inning for the final score of 15-7.
Liberty reliever Dustin Umberger (Jr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) runs his record to 2-1, pitching three scoreless innings in relief of starter Ryan Page (Sr., LHP, Cranberry Twp., Pa.). Umberger did not allowed only one runner to reach base over his three innings of work, striking six batters and walking one. Page yielded three runs, two earned, on five hits, striking four batters and walking three during the contest's first five innings. Army starter Ben Koeningfeld, one of four Black Knight hurlers, drops to 1-2 on the year. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in five innings' of work. All totaled, Army yielded six unearned runs in the game.
Brown paced the Liberty attack by going 3-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored. Bussey also had three hits, while Keller drove in three runs for the Flames. Polchinski had three hits for Army.
Liberty travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to participate in the Coca-Cola Classic, next Friday and Saturday. The Flames will square off against the Cal. State Northridge Matadors on the opening day of the tournament, Friday at 2:30 p.m. Liberty will then face the host Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Noon on Saturday, followed by another contest with Cal. State Northridge at 3:30 p.m.