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Two-Out Runs Key Liberty Victory Over Coastal
Liberty evens the weekend series between the Big South Conference foes at one game apiece, and improves the Flames' mark to 12-11 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Coastal Carolina drops to 20-6 overall and 1-1 in conference action.
Coastal Carolina took a short-lived 1-0 edge in the third inning. Second baseman Scott Woodward bunted his way aboard and moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Liberty starter Clarence Nicely (Jr., RHP, Milton, W.Va.). David Sappelt followed with a RBI single for the first run of the contest.
In the bottom of the frame, Liberty used timely hitting, striking for five runs after two men were out to take a 5-1 lead. With two outs, three straight walks loaded the bases with Flames. The next batter, left fielder Jeff Jefferson (Fr., Danville, Va.), lined a single up the middle to plate two runs and give Liberty a lead it never relinquished. Third baseman Cody Brown (Jr., Boca Raton, Fla.) followed by ripping a double inside the third base bag to stretch the Flames' advantage to 4-1. Designated hitter Garrett Young capped the uprising with Liberty's third consecutive two-out, run-scoring hit, a single.
The Chanticleers cut into the Flames' advantage in the top of the fourth. Center fielder Sappelt drew a two-out bases loaded walk, forcing in the first run of the inning. Later, Adam Rice legged out an infield single, slicing the Liberty lead to 5-3. In the bottom of the frame, the Flames once again struck with two outs, as Errol Hollinger (Jr., C, Upland, Calif.) singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) followed with a single to center to plate the catcher and make it, 6-3 Liberty.
Head coach Jim Toman's squad extended its lead in the sixth inning. Flames center fielder Tim Rotola (Jr., Wichita, Kan.) and shortstop Aaron Phillips (Sr., Claremore, Okla.) opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Hollinger then cashed in the pair with a RBI single through the middle for an 8-3 edge.
Both teams exchanged solo runs in the eighth inning, with a Tommy Baldridge single scoring the Coastal Carolina run. Liberty took advantage of a Chanticleer error to plate a two-out run in the bottom half of the eighth.
In the ninth frame, Coastal Carolina pushed across a run against Liberty reliever Dane Beakler (Jr., RHP, York, Pa.) with one out. However, the right-hander settled down with runners on second and third to retire the next two batters and seal Liberty's 9-6 victory.
Flames' starter Nicely runs his record to 3-1 on the season, giving up three runs on nine hits over six innings. The right-hander struck out six and issued six free passes. Andrew Wilson (Jr., RHP, Cary, N.C.) pitched two innings of relief, allowing two runs on five hits, before Beakler came on in the ninth. Chanticleer starter Austin Fleet picks up his first loss of the season, dropping to 3-1 on the year. The right-hander yielded six runs on five hits and walked five in 3 2/3 innings.
Hollinger, Jefferson and Keller each had two hits in the contest for Liberty. Rice and Dock Doyle had three hits apiece to pace Coastal Carolina.
The two teams will meet in the final contest of their three-game Big South series Sunday afternoon at Worthington Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.