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Keller and John Have Big Days As Flames Defeat Highlanders
P.K. Keller and Phil John each hit home runs and drove in four runs as the Liberty Flames cruised to a 16-5 victory over the Radford Highlanders in the opener of a three-game Big South series between the two teams, Friday at Dedmon Center Park.
With their sixth straight win, the Flames move to 23-8 overall and 4-3 in the Big South, while the Highlanders fall to 4-27 overall and 1-9 in conference. Liberty had a season-high 20 hits, which tops the 19 hits the Flames had in a 16-8 victory over VMI last Saturday.
Liberty staked itself to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. After Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) walked and advanced to second on a balk, Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) singled to right field to plate the shortstop with the Flames' first run of the afternoon.
The Flames extended their lead as both teams plated runs in the second inning. Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) led off the frame with a bunt single. P.K. Keller (So., CF, St. Petersburg, Fla.) followed with his third home run of the season over the right center field wall for a 3-0 advantage. It was Keller's third home run of the season. In the bottom of the inning, Radford scored their first run of the game on a RBI single by center fielder Will Naylor to make it, 3-1.
Liberty added single runs in the third and fifth innings. In the third, Just singled and later came home on a RBI single by Keller to make it 4-1, while in the fifth, the Flames plated a run on back-to-back singles by Grijalva and Keller for a 5-1 advantage.
In the sixth, Liberty broke the game open as the Flames scored six runs on six hits. Liberty plated runs on a RBI single by Just, a two-run double by Phillip Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.), a two-run double by Phil John (Jr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) and a RBI single by Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.).
Radford scored a run in the bottom of the inning on a RBI single by left fielder Jeff Cooper, while Liberty added two more in the eighth on a two-run home run by John, his second round tripper of the season.
The Flames scored three runs and the Highlanders added four runs in the ninth for the final score.
Flames' starter Michael Solbach (r-So., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) pitched six innings, allowing two runs on six hits to move his record to 6-1 on the year. The right-hander struck out six, while walking one. Highlander right hander Josh Hammonds allowed five runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings in the loss and falls to 1-3 on the season.
Grijalva, John, Just and Keller each had three hits in the game as Liberty had a season-high 20 hits on the afternoon. 10 of the 14 players the Flames sent to the plate had a hit.
Liberty and Radford meet again in the second game of their three-game series tomorrow afternoon. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.