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Flames Slug Way Past Highlanders, 18-4
The Liberty Flames raced to a 7-2 advantage over the first two inning of play Saturday at Dedmon Center Park, and never looked back in an 18-4 victory over the Radford Highlanders in the middle game of a three-game Big South series.
With its fourth-straight conference victory, Liberty moves to 5-3 in Big South play and 16-17 overall. Radford falls to 2-6 in conference play and 15-18 overall. The Flames have now defeated the Highlanders in 11-straight games.
Liberty batted around in the opening inning, striking for four runs. Lead-off man Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) walked to open the game and scored ahead of a home run by P.K Keller (Jr., LF, Clearwater, Fla.). Keller lined a 1-0 pitch inside the right-field foul pole for his fourth round tripper of the year, staking the Flames to a 2-0. Later in the frame, Liberty loaded the bases with two outs. Joseph Feely then brought home two more first-inning runs, with a single through the left side of the infield for a 4-0 Flames advantage.
Radford broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the first frame. With runners on the corners and two outs, the Flames caught Raphael Turner in a rundown between second and first, allowing the runner on third base, Reggie Keen, to score.
Liberty extended its advantage in the second inning. With one out, Errol Hollinger (Jr., C, Upland, Calif.) singled to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After the next hitter was retired, Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) ripped a double into the left field corner, plating the catcher for a 5-1 edge. Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) followed with a RBI single to up the Liberty lead to 6-1. David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) made it three-straight, two-out, run-scoring hits with a double.
The host Highlanders plated a single run in the bottom of the stanza. Keen singled to open the frame and later scored on an infield single by third baseman Nick Minter.
Up 7-2 in the fifth inning, the Flames pushed across two more tallies. Joseph Feeley (Fr., CF, Chesapeake City, Md.) received a free pass to open the frame and moved to third on consecutive sacrifice bunts. Hollinger followed by roping a double into the right-center field gap to make it, 8-2. The next batter, Keller, singled through the middle to plate the second run of the frame and give Liberty a 9-2 lead.
After Radford put an unearned run on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Flames upped their cushion to 11-3 in the top of the sixth. Giammaresi doubled and later scored on an error. Negron added the second marker of the inning with a single.
The Flames added a solo run in the seventh on a RBI single by Young and three more in the eighth on a wild pitch and a two-run home run by pinch hitter Doug Bream (Fr., OF, Elizabethtown, Pa.). Radford scored a solo run in the eighth, while Liberty plated three on a home run by Tommy Bussey (Jr., 2B, Boynton Beach, Fla.), his first of the year, for the final 18-4 score.
Liberty starter Dustin Umberger (Jr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) runs his record to 4-3 on the year. The right-hander yielded three runs, two earned, on eight hits during five innings of work. The first of five Flames hurlers in the contest struck out four and walked one. Radford left-hander Adam Hoyt falls to 3-3 on the season. He allowed nine runs on eight hits, before being relieved with two outs in the fifth inning.
Liberty tied a season high with 18 runs in the game on 19 hits. Giammaresi and Keller led the Flames with three hits apiece. Left fielder Justin Spears had three hits for Radford.
The two teams meet again tomorrow in the final game of the Big South series tomorrow. Game time at Dedmon Center Park is scheduled for 1 p.m.