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Liberty Forces Second Title Game
With the victory, Liberty forces a second game for the 2008 Big South Title, this afternoon at 4:45 p.m. The winner of the second contest between the Flames and the Chanticleers will claim the conference tournament title and automatic entry to a NCAA Regional next weekend.
Liberty moves to 35-25-1 on the year. Coastal Carolina drops to 46-12 on the season. The Flames will try to become only the third team in conference history and the first Big South squad since UNC Greensboro in 1997 to win the conference title after losing its first game of the tournament.
The victory was Liberty's fourth consecutive contest with a double-digit run total. During their five games in the Big South Championship, the Flames have scored 53 runs, eclipsing the previous tournament record of 52 runs, previously set by Winthrop in 1987.
Evans (Fr., LHP, Amherst, Va.) kept the Coastal Carolina batters off balance throughout the game to run his record to 3-3 on the year. The freshman allowed just one run on three hits, striking out seven batters and walking four. The outing was the longest of his career. The southpaw had previously gone 7 2/3 innings in a 13-3 victory over William & Mary on April 15.
Liberty struck for the first run of the contest in its opening at bat. Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) doubled to left field to lead off the contest and moved to third base on a single to right field by Errol Hollinger (Jr., C, Upland, Calif.). Two batters later, Cody Brown (Jr. 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) singled sharply to right-center field to plate Negron and give the Flames a 1-0 advantage.
In the fourth inning, Liberty extended its lead with five runs on four hits, taking advantage of two Coastal Carolina errors. Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) began the frame with a towering drive over the Taco Bell sign in left-center field for his sixth home run of the season and a 2-0 Flames lead. Later in the frame, Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) singled to score Jeff Jefferson (Fr., RF, Danville, Va.), who had reached on an infield single. Negron then grounded back to Coastal Carolina pitcher Austin Fleet, who overthrew second base, allowing another run to score for a 4-0 edge. Two batters later, David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) ripped a single to right field to plate two more runs, putting the Flames up, 6-0.
Liberty tallied two more runs in the fifth frame. Young and Aaron Grijalva (Sr., LF, Redlands, Calif.) began the inning with back-to-back singles. After the next batter was retired, Tim Rotola (Jr., CF, Wichita, Kan.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Phillips pushed across the first run with a fielder's choice ground ball. Negron followed with an infield single through the middle to score Grijalva and give Liberty an 8-0 lead.
Coastal Carolina got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, left fielder Adam Rice doubled off the left-center field wall for the first Chanticleer hit off Liberty's Evans. Right fielder Tommy Baldridge followed with a single through the middle to bring home Rice for the first Chanticleer run of the contest.
In the sixth, Liberty put two more runs on the scoreboard for a 10-1 edge. Brown walked and Young singled ahead of a two-run double by Jefferson.
The Flames added three runs in the eighth inning. Liberty plated runs on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Jefferson and a passed ball.
Young posted his second four-hit game of the tournament. The designated hitter also belted four hits in an 11-2 victory over Radford Friday. Brown, Negron and Jefferson collected two hits apiece for the Flames.