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Liberty Falls to Norfolk State
Liberty, playing without two starters due to injury, falls to 12-14 on the season, while Norfolk State moves to 12-10 on the year.
The Spartans took a 1-0 advantage in the first inning. Left fielder John Lynch reached on an error to open the inning, and later scored on a bases-loaded single by first baseman Brandon Hairston.
The Flames knotted the score in the third frame. Left fielder Joseph Feely (Fr., Chesapeake City, Md.) singled to left field to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Okla.). After advancing to third on a ground out, Feely scored on a two-out error on a grounder to shortstop by Errol Hollinger (Jr., C, Upland, Calif.), tying the score at 1-1.
Norfolk State went back on top in the fifth inning. With one out, three consecutive singles, the last by catcher John Boyd, plated the first Spartan run of the frame. The next batter, Hairston, brought home Norfolk State's second run of the stanza with a ground out, for a 3-1 Spartan edge.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Liberty took a 5-3 lead. Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) singled and Hollinger was hit by a pitch to begin the four-run stanza. After the next batter was retired, Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) ripped a single up the middle to plate Negron. Jeff Jefferson (Fr., RF, Danville, Va.) followed with another RBI single. The Flames then took advantage of a Norfolk State error on a hard liner by Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif., allowing two more runs to come home.
The Spartans pushed across three tallies in the eighth, to once again seize the advantage. After the leadoff batter was hit by pitch to begin the inning, Lynch plated him with an infield single. Three batters later, Boyd singled home two more runs for a 6-5 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Liberty threatened by loading the bases with one out. However, reliever Joey Seal was able to retire the next two batters to end the threat.
Norfolk State added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning, for the final score of 8-5.
Reliever Joe Steinwedell (So, RHP, Encinitas, Calif.), the second of three Liberty pitchers, takes the loss to fall to 0-1 on the year. Quinn Bright, the second hurler of the day for Norfolk State, evened his record at 3-3 on the year, while Seal records his first save.
Negron and Brown each had a pair of hits in the contest for the Flames. Brad Stephenson and Lynch had three hits apiece for the Spartans.
Liberty returns to conference play this weekend. The Flames, 1-2 in the Big South, travel to Asheville, N.C., for a weekend series with the Bulldogs of UNC Asheville. Game time for the opener of the series is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.