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Hollinger, Stokes Pace Flames in Victory
With the win in the Big South contest, Liberty moves to 4-3 in conference play and 15-17 overall. Radford drops to 2-5 in the Big South and 15-17 overall.
With the game deadlocked at four in the top of the ninth, Hollinger (Jr., Upland, Calif.), who earlier had homered in the fifth inning, ripped his second solo round tripper to give Liberty a 5-4 lead. It was the catcher's team-leading sixth home run of the year.
Flames starter Stokes (Sr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) then retired Radford in order in the bottom of the ninth for his first complete game of the year and the victory. The senior right-hander gave up four runs on 11 hits on the afternoon, striking out seven and walking one, upping his season's mark to 4-3.
After a scoreless first two frames, Liberty jumped to a 3-0 edge in the third inning, bunching together five hits. With one out, center fielder Joseph Feely (Fr., Chesapeake City, Md.) reached on an infield single which ricocheted off the first base bag. Shortstop Aaron Phillips (Sr., Claremore, Okla.) followed with a sharp single through the left side of the infield.
After a ground out moved the runners into scoring position, Hollinger laced a single to right field, plating the runners for a 2-0 Flames lead. Left fielder P.K. Keller (Sr., Clearwater, Fla.) kept the inning alive with an infield single which hugged the line. Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) then capped the frame with a run-scoring single.
Host Radford countered in the bottom of the inning with a solo run. Nick Minter opened the Highlander fourth with a double. The third baseman moved on a ground out and later scored on a two-out single by center fielder Mario Durate.
The Highlanders cut into the Liberty advantage to 3-2 in the fourth inning. After the first three batters of the frame reached to begin the stanza, outfielder Jonathan Spears lifted a sacrifice fly to score a run. However, Stokes (Sr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) induced the next batter to ground into a double play to end the threat without further damage.
In the fifth, Hollinger added to the Liberty lead with a solo home run over the left field fence, giving the Flames a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the frame, Radford knotted the contest with two runs. With runners at the corners and two out, catcher Nate Toth singled through the right side of the infield to score the inning's first run for the Highlanders. Pinch hitter Andrew Cook followed with a RBI single to tie the score at 4-4.
Each team threatened to break the tie during the middle innings, but was unable to do so. Liberty loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but a pitcher-to-catcher-to-first double play and a ground out, thwarted the Flames threat. In seventh, the Highlanders put runners on the corners with two outs, but the next Radford hitter grounded out to keep the score knotted.
Highlander starter Eric Evans did not figure in the decision. The left-hander allowed four runs on 12 hits and struck out four batters. Reliever Josh Hammonds takes the loss to fall to 0-2.
Besides his two round trippers, Hollinger added a two-run double for a total of three hits and four RBIs in the contest. A trio of Flames, Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.), David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) and Feely had two hits each in the contest. First baseman Alex Gregory had three hits for the Highlanders.
Liberty and Radford will meet in the second game of the three-game conference series tomorrow afternoon at Dedmon Center Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.