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Seven-Run Fourth Lifts Flames Past Panthers

April 30, 2006
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Seven-Run Fourth Lifts Flames Past Panthers
Liberty scored seven fourth-inning runs to take a lead the Flames never relinquished in defeating the Birmingham-Southern Panthers, 12-5, Sunday afternoon in the Big South series finale between the two teams at Worthington Stadium.

Liberty moves to 11-7 in the Big South Conference and 33-13 overall, while Birmingham-Southern falls to 11-4 in conference and 24-18 overall.

The Flames jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) singled and advanced to third on a double down the left field line by Chad Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.). After intentionally walking Phillip Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.) to load the bases with one out, Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) drove a pitch up the middle to drive in Gaillard and Miller.

The Panthers came back in the top of the second with three runs to take the lead. Designated hitter Billy Froehlich singled to right to open the inning, moved to second as Blake Burton was hit by a pitch and scored on a RBI double to right by second baseman Ronny Woods. Center fielder Mark Goforth followed with a two-run double to the left field corner to put Birmingham-Southern up, 3-2.

In the bottom of the frame, Liberty knotted the score at 3-3 with a two-out run. Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.) doubled to the left field corner and scored as Gaillard singled up the middle.

The Flames broke the contest open in the fourth as they scored seven runs on six hits. Derek Bennion (r-Jr., CF, Snohomish, Wash.) started the inning off with double. He then stole third on ball four to next batter Hollinger. With runners on the corner, Gaillard doubled to left to deliver Bennion for a 4-3 Liberty advantage. After Miller walked to load the bases, Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) singled through the hole between the shortstop and third baseman to plate Hollinger. Grijalva singled sharply to right field, two batters later, to drive in two more runs. Just scored the Flames' fifth run of the frame as the second baseman came home on a sacrifice fly by Abe Yeakel (Jr., DH, Kutztown, Pa.).

With two outs, the inning continued as the Panther first baseman made a throwing error on a pick off attempt of Grijalva at first, allowing him to advance to third base. Phil John (Jr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) drove in the runner from third with a RBI single and Bennion, who started the inning with a double, double again to score John and put Liberty up, 10-3.

In the sixth inning, the Flames added two more on solo home runs for a 12-3 advantage. Laurent lead off the frame with a blast over the right field wall, his seventh home run of the year. After the next batter flew out, Yeakel hit his third home run of the season, an opposite field shot over the left field wall.

Birmingham-Southern plated two in the seventh. With one out and the bases loaded, Billak singled to center to score a run. After a pitching change, another run would score on a fielders' choice ground out by Froehlich.

Liberty starter Dustin Umberger (Fr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) allowed five runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings to pick up his first win as a starter. The right-hander struck out five and walked two in running his record to 2-1 on the season. Tim John (Jr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) pitched the final 2 1/3 innings allowing only one hit and striking out four. Will Stroup, the second of three pitchers on the day for the Panthers, took the loss, allowing seven runs, five earned, on six hits as he falls to 2-1.

Grijalva was 3-for-5 with four RBI, while teammates Bennion and Gaillard also collected three hits on the afternoon for the Flames. Goforth, Billak and Woods each had two hits each for the Panthers.

Liberty steps out of conference for a rematch with the Virginia Tech Hokies on Wednesday night in Blacksburg, Va. Game time at English Field is scheduled for 7 p.m. Birmingham-Southern returns home Tuesday night to host UAB in a 7 p.m. non-conference contest at Striplin Field.