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Flames Drop First Game of Twinbill, 11-6
With the setback, Liberty falls to 10-8 on the season. Columbia moves to 3-11 on the year.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning without a hit, the Lions broke open the game in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two outs, right fielder Jeff Jefferson (Fr., Danville, Va.) misplayed a fly ball, allowing two runners to score for a 4-0 Lions advantage and keeping the frame alive for Columbia. The Lions then executed a double steal to score another run with outfielder Noah Cooper at the plate to quickly jump to a 5-0 lead. Cooper followed with an RBI single to drive in Columbia's fourth run of the rally. After a double by the next batter, Dean Forthum, shortstop Alex Ferrera capped the six-run uprising with a two-run double.
Liberty got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the stanza, cutting the Lion lead to 8-2. Kenneth Negron (Jr., LF, Kingwood, Texas) reached on an error by Ferrara to begin the frame for the Flames. Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Texas) followed with a double, moving both runners into scoring position. Tim Rotola (Jr., CF, Wichita, Kan.) and Aaron Grijalva (Sr., 1B/OF, Redlands, Calif.) followed with RBI groundouts to score the runners.
The Lions extended their advantage in the sixth with three more runs. A RBI single by second baseman Henry Perkins and a two-run triple by Mike Malfettone pushed the Columbia lead to 11-2.
Liberty scored twice in the seventh inning and twice in the ninth inning for the final score of 11-6. In the seventh, a double by David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) and a Jefferson single pushed across runs for the Flames. In the ninth, Liberty scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Jason Love (So., 1B/C, Anchorage, Alaska) and a single by Negron.
Starter Andrew Wilson (Jr., RHP, Cary, N.C.) took the loss, evening his record at 1-1. The right-hander gave up four runs, two earned, on two hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. The junior struck out three, walked three and hit three batters. Columbia starter Geoff Whitaker moves to 2-2 on the year. The right-hander allowed four runs, three earned, struck out four and walked one in seven-plus innings.
Liberty outhit Columbia, 13-9, with Rotola, Giammaresi, Jefferson, Negron and Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) collecting a pair of hits each. Left fielder Jason Banos had two hits for the Lions.