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Laurent Breaks Liberty Doubles Mark as Flames Fall to Panthers
Left fielder Scott Billak hit three home runs and drove in seven runs as the Birmingham-Southern Panthers downed the Liberty Flames, 15-1, in the opening game of three-game Big South Conference series, Friday afternoon, at Worthington Stadium. Flames' senior left fielder Phillip Laurent became the all-time Liberty career doubles leader with a double in the first inning.
With the win, Birmingham-Southern moves to 10-3 in the Big South and 23-17 overall, while Liberty drops to 10-6 in conference play and 32-12 overall.
The Panthers did their damage early, scoring multiple runs in each of the first four innings.
Birmingham-Southern struck for four two-out runs in the first. Billak, the third batter of the inning, hit a solo home run and his fifth of the season to put the Panthers on the board. Pitcher Brandon Hynick singled and shortstop Matt Barber reached on an error by the Flames' third baseman, keeping the inning alive. Both runners then scored on a double down the left field line by catcher Blake Burton. The next batter Brett Ashley plated Burton for a 4-0 advantage.
Liberty scored a run in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) singled to left and scored on a double to right center field by Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.). With the double, the Flames' left fielder became the all-time Liberty doubles leader with 57, surpassing Steve Baker, who was an outfielder for the Flames from 1999-02.
The Panthers added to their lead in the second as they plated three more in the second. With two outs, Billak singled to score Brint Hardy, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Billak stole second and ended up on third on a throwing error by the Liberty catcher. After Hynick walked and stole second, Billak came home on a wild pitch. The next four Birmingham-Southern batters then walked as Ashley picked an RBI by receiving a base on ball to force home Hynick for a 7-1 lead.
In the third, the Panthers extended their lead with two more runs. With two out in the frame, Billak hit his second home run of the game, a two-run homer to left.
Birmingham-Southern continued its offensive outburst in the fourth. After an error and a walk put runners at first and second with one out, second baseman Ronny Woods hit his second home run of the season to clear the bases. Mark Goforth and Brint Hardy followed with back-to-back singles and came home ahead of Billak's third home run of the afternoon, his seventh of the season. The left-fielder finished the day 4-fo-5 with seven RBI and four runs scored.
Panther starter Hynick kept the Flames in check, allowing the first inning run and scattering nine hits in seven innings. The right-hander ran his record to 4-4 as he struck out five and walked none. Liberty's Michael Solbach (r-So., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) took the loss to fall to 7-3 on the year. The starter allowed eight runs, four which were earned, in 2 2/3 innings, while striking out one and walking five. 11 of Birmingham-Southern's runs were unearned on the afternoon.
The Panthers and Flames will meet again tomorrow afternoon in the second game of the three game set at Worthington Stadium. Game time has been moved back to 3 p.m.