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Liberty Stays Unbeaten in May
With the victory, Liberty remains unbeaten in the month of May with a 7-0-1 mark and moves to 29-23-1 on the year. VCU falls to 15-29 on the season. The non-conference game was the final midweek contest of the regular season for both teams.
Liberty jumped on the scoreboard in the game's opening inning. Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) opened the frame with a single and moved to second on another single by P.K. Keller (Sr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.). After David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) walked to load the bases, Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) lifted a sacrifice fly to right, plating Negron and giving the Flames a 1-0 advantage.
VCU knotted the contest in the top of the second frame. With one out, right fielder Justin Wright doubled to the left center field gap. After an infield single by third baseman Chris Jackson advanced the runner to third, a ground out by catcher Nate Furry brought home Wright to even the score at 1-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Liberty went back in front. Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) kept the frame alive with a two-out single. Negron then reached on a fielding error by third baseman Chris Jackson. Errol Hollinger followed with a home run off the scoreboard in left center field to give the Flames a 4-1 edge. The blast was the catcher's team-leading eighth round tripper of the season.
VCU took advantage of two Liberty errors to cut the Flames' advantage to 4-2. Wright doubled with one out and moved to third on a fielding error by Brown on a grounder to third by Jackson. Wright then scored for the second time in the contest when Phillips threw the ball away during a rundown involving Jackson between second and first base.
Liberty stretched its lead in the fifth. Hollinger beat out a bunt down the third base line for a hit to open the contest. Keller followed with a single to move Hollinger to second, and both runners moved into scoring position on a ground out. Brown then plated the Flames catcher with a RBI ground out to make it 5-2 Liberty.
The Rams trimmed the Flames advantage to two runs, 5-3, in the sixth frame. Pinch hitter Sean Holmes led off the inning with single to right field and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After recording two outs, Holmes came around to score, as Phillips overthrew second base on a fielder's choice grounder.
In the eighth, Liberty added to its advantage with a five-run uprising. With one out and the bases loaded, Joseph Feeley (Fr., CF, Chesapeake City, Md.) was issued a walk to force across the first run of the frame. Negron followed with a single through the left side past a drawn in infield score two more runs and an 8-3 advantage. Two batters later, Keller doubled to chase home two more runs for the final seven-run lead, 10-3.
With the victory, Liberty's starter Clarence Nicely (Jr., RHP, Milton, W.Va.) runs his record to 5-1 on the year. The right-hander gave up three runs, only one earned, over six innings. He struck out seven hitters and walked two. Andrew Wilson (Jr., RHP, Cary, N.C.) followed with two scoreless innings of relief. Steven Evans (Fr., LHP, Amherst, Va.) retired all three batters he faced in the ninth to cap the Liberty victory. The Flames' hurlers struck out 12 Rams in the contest.
VCU starter Will Hirsch falls to 0-6 on the season. The right-hander allowed nine runs, six earned, over 7 1/3 frames.
Keller paced the Flames with three hits and two RBIs. Negron and Hollinger each added two hits and scored three runs apiece. Wright had two of the Rams five hits in the contest.
Liberty, 12-6 in the Big South and in second place in the conference standings, will host the High Point Panthers in the final three-game series of the regular season starting Friday. First pitch on Friday at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.