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Liberty Squeezes Radford to Sweep Weekend Series
A squeeze bunt by P.K. Keller scored Michael Just, breaking a ninth inning 5-5 tie as the Liberty Flames downed the Radford Highlanders, 6-5, Sunday at Dedmon Center Park to sweep the three-game Big South series.
With the sweep, the Flames move to 25-8 and 6-3 in the Big South, while the Highlanders fall to 4-29 and 1-10 in the conference. Liberty has won eight straight for the second time.
For the first time in the series, Radford scored first with an unearned run in the bottom half of the first inning. Lead off man Steven Ellis reached on an error by the Liberty second baseman and ended up on third on a throwing error by the catcher on a steal attempt. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Nate Toth for a 1-0 lead.
Liberty knotted the game at 1-1 in the third inning. With two outs, Phillip Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.) singled and stole second. Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) followed with a single up the middle, scoring Laurent.
The following inning, the Flames took the lead, 3-1. With runners on the corners and one out, Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) singled up the middle to plate Phil John (Jr., RF, Linwood, N.J.), who had reached on a fielder's choice. Chad Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.) then scored Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.) on a fielder's choice. Hollinger had reached on a single to right field.
Radford scored single runs in the sixth and seventh to tie the score at 3-3. In sixth, the Highlanders cut it to 3-2 on a solo home run by Toth. It was the catcher's third home run of season. In the seventh inning, with runners on the corners, right fielder Steven Ellis got caught in a run down between first and second, allowing the runner on third, Ben Toth to score.
The Flames scored two runs in the eighth inning to go in front, 5-3. Abe Yeakel (Jr., DH, Kutztown, Pa.) opened the frame with a triple down the right field line. John followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Yeakel. Gaillard followed with a RBI single to score Phil John.
The Highlanders knotted it back up at 5-5 in the bottom of the inning. Third baseman Alex Gregory singled home the first run of the frame, while a ground out by Aaron Raft scored Toth, who had earlier doubled.
Liberty went back on top in the ninth inning. Michael Just opened the frame with a single to left field, which the Radford's left fielder misplayed, allowing Just to advance to second. Grijalva then lofted a double to right, moving Just to third. Keller (So., CF, St.Petersburg, Fla.) and Just then executed the squeeze play to perfection as the center field laid a bunt down the first base line while Just scored to take a 6-5 lead.
Tim John (Jr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) closed out the Highlanders in the bottom of the inning for the victory.
Flames' starter Dustin Umberger (Fr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing three runs, two earned on seven hits, while striking out five. Tim John relieved and picked up the win to run his record to 3-1. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. The Highlanders' Eric Evans took the loss allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief.
Gaillard and Grijalva both were 4-for-5 for the Liberty, while teammate Phil John had three hits on the day. Gregory had three hits for Radford.
Liberty returns home on Tuesday to host the James Madison Dukes at Worthington Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.