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Flames Sweep Series From Keydets
Chad Miller's third inning bases clearing triple gave Liberty an 8-4 lead the Flames never relinquished as Liberty went on to defeat the VMI Keydets, 9-7, Sunday afternoon at Worthington Stadium and sweep the three-game weekend Big South Series.
With their fourth straight win, Liberty runs its record to 21-8 and 3-3 in the Big South, while VMI falls to 20-9 and 2-4 in the conference.
For the third straight day, the Flames scored in the first inning to take an early lead. Lead off man Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) singled and Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.) walked to open the frame. Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) followed with a sharply hit double down the left field line to plate both runners for a quick 2-0 Liberty advantage. Just later scored on a RBI ground out by Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) to go up 3-0.
VMI countered with three runs in the top of the second to knot the score at 3-3. With runners on the corners and no outs, center fielder B.T. Good singled up the middle to chase home both runners. Good later scored on a ground out by designated hitter Will Smith to tie the game.
The Flames went back on top in the bottom of the inning as Phill John (Jr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) reached on a error by the Keydet shortstop, advanced all the way to third base on a wild pitch and scored for 4-3 advantage on a single by Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.).
Once again, the Keydets answered back in the top half of the third. After being hit by a pitch, advancing to second on a wild pitch and stealing third on the front end of a double steal, lead off man Chad Rice came home on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Robert Crumpler to tie the game at 4-4.
In the bottom of the inning, the Flames erupted for four runs to take the lead for good. After loading the bases with two outs, Gaillard hit a ball sharply in the hole between short and third for an RBI infield single to put Liberty ahead, 5-4. Miller, who has hit safely in 10 straight games, followed by roping a liner down the right field line to clear the bases for a 7-4 lead.
VMI cut into the Liberty lead with three runs in the seventh inning. With two men on and one out, Rice doubled to right center field to score a run. The Keydets' then scored two more on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Klint Reed to make it, 8-7.
The Flames then added a run in the bottom of the inning for a 9-7 lead. Abe Yeakel (Jr., DH, Kutztown, Pa.) walked, stole second and scored on two wild pitches.
Liberty starter Dustin Umberger (Fr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) picked up his first collegiate win in his second start to even his record at 1-1 on the season. The right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on five hits, while striking out two and walking two. Reliever Tim John (Jr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) came on to retired all eight Keydet batters he faced to earn his first save of the year. J.J. Hollenbeck took the loss for the Keydets to fall to 1-3 as he gave up five runs on six hits, while walking three.
The top of the Liberty line-up had a big day at the plate as Gaillard (3-for-5) and Miller (2-for-3) combined to go 5-for-8 with four RBI and scored three runs. It was Gaillard's second straight day with three hits. Second baseman Shane Geisslinger was the only Keydets with two hits.
Liberty hits the road on Wednesday for a night game against William & Mary. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.