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Charleston Southern Plates Three Runs in Seventh to Halt Liberty's Win Streak
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers rallied for three seventh inning runs to down the Liberty Flames, 7-5, in the first game of the three-game Big South series, Friday at Bucanneer Field, snapping the Flames' nine-game winning streak.
With the setback, Liberty falls to 26-9 on the season and 6-4 in the Big South, while Charleston Southern moves to 14-26 and 8-8 in conference. The Flames also had their nine-game winning streak come to an end. It is the second time this season Liberty has won nine consecutive games to tie the school record for Division I consecutive wins reached also by the 1985 and 1995.
Charleston Southern scored the game's first runs in the second inning. After back-to-back singles with one out, a safety bunt by catcher John Mark Cleveland plated center fielder Chris Krogmeier for a 1-0 lead. Second baseman Ryan Smart followed with a run-scoring single for a 2-0 Buccaneer advantage.
Liberty took the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Phillip Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.) doubled over the head of the center fielder to the bottom of the wall to open the frame. P.K. Keller (So., CF, St. Petersburg, Fla.) followed with a single and Derek Bennion (r-Jr., DH, Snohomish, Wash.) walked to load the bases with no one out. Phil John (Jr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) then blooped a hit into left field, which the left fielder played into a force out at third base, to score Laurent. Next batter Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.) lined a 2-run double into the right center field gap to put the Flames up, 3-2. After a foul out, an infield hit by Chad Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.) scored Hollinger for a 4-2 advantage.
The Buccaneers came back in the bottom of the inning. After a single by Wes Brundridge, left fielder Justin Fyle lined his eighth home run of the season over the wall in right center field to tie the game at 4-4.
An unearned run put the Flames back on top, 5-4, in the sixth inning. After Bennion walked, a throwing error by the Buccaneer third baseman at second on a ground ball by John, allowed the designated hitter to move to third. A sacrifice fly by next batter Hollinger plated the runner.
Charleston Southern struck for three runs in the seventh inning. Smart doubled to open the frame and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Adam Brown. He then scored on a single by center fielder Brunridge to knot the score at 5-5. After a single by Fyle put Buccaneers on the corners, first baseman Anthony Hayes' safety bunt brought home Brundridge, making 6-5. Charleston Southern added an additional run in the frame as the next batter David Perkins doubled to the wall to plate Fyle.
Liberty starter Michael Solbach took the loss falling to 6-2 as he allowed six runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out six and walked none. Ryan Page allowed one run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief. Bryan Robert, the second Charleston Southern pitcher of the afternoon ran his record to 2-2, allowing no runs on one hit over 4 innings.
The Flames and Buccaneers will meet again tomorrow in a doubleheader to conclude their three-game series at Buccaneer Field. The doubleheader begins at 11 a.m.