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Liberty Holds on for Victory at Virginia Tech

May 7, 2008
|  Blacksburg, Va.
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Aaron Phillips hit a grand slam in Liberty victory Wednesday night.

Aaron Phillips hit a grand slam in Liberty victory Wednesday night.

The Liberty Flames raced out to a 7-0 advantage, highlighted by a grand slam by Aaron Phillips and then held on for a 7-6 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies, Wednesday night at English Field.

With its fourth-straight win, Liberty moves to 26-23 overall. Virginia Tech drops to 20-28.

Liberty jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the second inning. First baseman David Giammaresi (Sr., Coral Springs, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by Hokies second baseman Austin Wates to open the frame and moved to second on a single to right field by third baseman Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.). Designated hitter Garrett Young (Sr., Fountain Valley, Calif.) loaded the bases with Flames by singling sharply to left field. Two batters later, shortstop Aaron Phillips (Sr., Claremore, Okla.) ripped a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his sixth home run of the season and his first grand slam of his Liberty career.

The Flames added to their lead in the third with two more runs. Catcher Errol Hollinger (Jr., Upland, Calif.) began the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second base, when third baseman Michael Seaborn's throw sailed wide of first base. After the next batter flew out, Giammaresi doubled into the right field corner to score Hollinger. Brown followed by lining a double down the left field line to bring home Giammaresi and up the Liberty lead to 6-0.

Meanwhile, Liberty starter Clarence Nicely (Jr., RHP, Milton, W.Va.) held the Virginia Tech batters in check through the first five innings of the contest. The junior right hander surpassed a career-high by recording eight strikeouts during the span. He did have to turn back a threat in the fourth, when second baseman Austin Wates tripled with two outs. However, he struck out the next batter to keep the Hokies scoreless.

In the sixth inning, the Flames pushed across a run to up their advantage 7-0. With two outs, pinch hitter Tim Rotola (Jr., OF, Wichita, Kan.) singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. He then stole third and when the pitch got by the catcher, scored.

In the bottom of the frame, Virginia Tech broke through against Nicely for four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Catcher Chris Kay led off the stanza with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. The next batter, center fielder Sean Ryan, walked. A batter later, first baseman Sean O'Brien walked to fill the bases with Hokies. Wates then tripled to the bottom of the wall in center field, clearing the bases and cutting the Liberty edge to 7-3. Seaborn followed with single, plating Wates and slicing the Flames' advantage to 7-4.

The Hokies cashed in two more runs in the seventh. Left fielder Steve Bumbry singled to open the inning and scored on double by right fielder Klint Reed. Two batters later, Ryan singled up the middle to bring home Reed to make it, 7-6 Liberty.

Flames reliever Steven Evans (Fr., LHP, Amherst, Va.) came on to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth to seal the 7-6 victory for Liberty.

Nicely picks up the win to move to 4-1 on the year. The right-hander gave up four runs on four hits during 5 1/3 innings of work. The junior hurler struck out a career-high 10 batters and walked two. Evans, the third pitcher of the night for the Flames, records his second save of the season. The freshman right hander yielded one run in his two frames of relief, striking out two. Virginia Tech Sean McDermott takes the loss to fall to 1-5 on the year. He allowed six runs on six hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Liberty continues its nonconference road swing with a visit to Longwood on Saturday for a doubleheader. The first game begins at 3 p.m.