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Flames Top Eagles, as Redal Sets Mark
Liberty's Curran Redal hit safely in his 32nd-consecutive game, setting a new Big South record, and Trey Wimmer hit his fifth home run of the season, as the Liberty Flames defeated the Big South leading Winthrop Eagles, 8-5, Friday in Big South Conference action at Worthington Stadium.
Liberty moves to 12-3 in Big South Conference play and 24-12 overall. Winthrop drops to 12-4 in conference action and 24-13 overall. The Flames' 12-3 record ties the 1998 and 1995 teams for the best starts in conference play.
Redal (Jr., Moses Lake, Wash.) singled through the left side of the infield in the first inning to hit safely in his 32nd game in a row, a new Big South record. The junior breaks the previous mark of 31-consecutive games with at least one hit, which he held with UNC Asheville shortstop Kevin Weidenbacher. The UNC Asheville shortstop set the previous record last season.
Winthrop plated the first run of the contest in the top half of the first inning. With two outs, designated hitter ripped his 11th home run of the season over the left center field wall for 1-0 Eagle lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Liberty countered with three runs to stake itself to a 3-1 advantage. Shortstop Matt Williams (Fr., Franklin, Tenn.) bounced a ball over the head of Winthrop third baseman Matt Thielepape to lead off the home half of the first. Redal followed with his record-breaking single.
After the next two batters were retired, right fielder Doug Bream (So., Elizabethtown, Pa.) walked to load the bases. Third baseman Tyler Bream (Fr., Zelienople, Pa.) then singled sharply through the middle to chase home two runs and give the Flames a 2-1 lead. Left fielder John Long (Fr., Anderson, S.C.) followed by dropping a run-scoring single into right field for a 3-1 Liberty advantage.
The Eagles scored three runs in the second inning to go back in front early in the contest. Thielepape opened the frame with a double and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Right fielder Sean Sullivan followed with a walk to put Winthrop runners on the corners. Second baseman Bryn Henderson followed by lifting a sacrifice fly to score Thielepage with the first run of the inning. The next batter, catcher John Murrian, doubled into the right field corner to bring home Sullivan, knotting the contest at 3-3. Two batters later, center fielder Cam Walters lined a one-out single up the middle, plating Murrian for a 4-3 Eagle edge.
For the second straight inning, the Flames responded with three runs to take back the advantage, 6-4. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez (Jr., Yucaipa, Calif.) doubled down the left field line to begin the frame. Two batters later, Redal legged out a liner into the right-center field gap, scoring Jimenez to tie the game at 4-4. Catcher Errol Hollinger (Sr., Upland, Calif.) followed by beating a chopper over the pitcher's head for an infield single, cashing in Redal to give Liberty a 5-4 lead. Two batters later, Doug Beam lined a run-scoring single to left field for a 6-4 advantage.
In the top of the fourth inning, Winthrop pushed across a run to slice its deficit to 6-5. Henderson doubled into the right-center field gap to lead off the frame. After the next two Eagles were retired, Walters lined a double inside the third base to score Henderson.
The Flames extended their lead in the fifth frame. Tyler Bream opened the inning by doubling off the center field wall. Two batters later, first baseman Wimmer (Fr., Greenwood, S.C.) blasted his fifth home run of the year, upping the Liberty advantage to 8-5.
In the ninth, Winthrop was able to move runners into scoring position at second and third base with one out, but Flames reliever Andrew Wilson (Sr., Cary, N.C.) closed the door, retiring the next two Eagle batters to secure the 8-5 victory.
Liberty starter Steven Evans (So., LHP, Amherst, Va.) runs his record to 6-2 on the year. The lefty gave up five runs on 10 hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked two batters. Carter Browning (Jr., RHP, Ada, Okla.) entered in the seventh and threw two innings of scoreless relief. Wilson earns his third save of the season, striking out two batters during the scoreless ninth.
Winthrop starter Wade Newman falls to 4-2 on the year. The right-hander allowed six runs on 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings of work. Matteo D'Angelo went the rest of the way for the Eagles, yielding two runs on four hits over 5 1/3.
Liberty pitching was helped by three double plays by its infield.
Besides hitting safely in his 32nd consecutive game, Redal had two hits on the night for his 16th multi-hit game. Tyler Bream, Williams, Long and Jimenez each had two hits for the Flames, who had 14 hits in the contest.
Walters paced all hitters in the game with three of the Eagles' 12 hits.
Winthrop and Liberty will meet in the second game of their Big South three-game series tomorrow afternoon at Worthington Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.