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Stokes, Home Runs Help Sink Buccaneers
With the victory in the opener of the three-game Big South series, Liberty ups its conference mark to 10-6 and moves to 23-23 overall on the year. Charleston Southern falls to 4-9 in the Big South standings and 15-26 overall.
Stokes (Sr., RHP, Locust Grove, Okla.) did not allow a runner to reach base through the first five innings of the contest on his way to the complete game victory. Pinch hitter Brantley Meier collected the first Charleston Southern hit, leading off the bottom of the sixth with a sharp single to left field. Stokes allowed three runs, one of which was unearned, on four hits, to improve to 6-4 on the season. He struck out eight batters and issued just one walk. Earlier in the season, the senior right-hander pitched the first of three complete games this season by a Liberty pitcher in a 5-4 win at Radford on April 11.
Liberty struck with two outs in the first inning for an early lead. P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) walked to continue the opening frame for the Flames. David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) followed by launching his fifth home run of the season over the scoreboard in left field for a 2-0 advantage.
In the second frame, the Flames extended their lead. Joseph Feeley (Fr., CF, Chesapeake City, Md.) connected for his first collegiate home run. The two-out home run to straight away center field gave Liberty a 3-0 lead.
Liberty extended its lead with two runs in the sixth. With one out, Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) singled and Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) walked. The next hitter, Aaron Grijalva (Sr., LF, Redlands, Calif.), chased home both runners, with a liner to the left field gap, splitting the left fielder and center fielder for a double and a 5-0 Flames advantage.
In the bottom of the frame, the Buccaneers turned their first hit of the game into a run. Meier singled to open the inning and moved to third on a throwing error by Stokes on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Mike Beattie. Shortstop Taylor Black then lifted a sacrifice fly to plate the first Charleston Southern run of the game.
In the eighth inning, Brown ripped a solo home run over the right field wall to boost the Liberty advantage to 6-1. The third baseman's round tripper was his seventh of the year, tying him with catcher Errol Hollinger (Jr., Upland, Calif.) for the team lead.
Charleston Southern countered with two runs in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, the Buccaneers loaded the bases by sandwiching a hit between two walks. Designated hitter Derek Smith followed with a two-run double, cutting the Liberty edge to 6-3. With runners at second and third base, Stokes struck out the next batter to end the threat.
Liberty added two insurance runs in the ninth. Hollinger singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. The catcher advanced to third on a single by Keller, and scored when left fielder Tyler Thornburg misplayed the base hit. Two batters later, Brown lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Keller for the final score of 8-3.
Hollinger led all hitters with three hits in the game. Keller, Grijalva and Brown each added two hits for the Flames.
Liberty and Charleston Southern close the three-game Big South Conference series tomorrow with a doubleheader. Game one is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.