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Laurent's 12th Inning Single Propels Flames Past Chanticleers
Phillip Laurent's bases loaded single in the bottom of the 12th inning snapped a 3-3 tie as the Flames rallied for two runs in the inning to defeat the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 4-3, Monday afternoon in the finale of the Big South three-game series at Worthington Stadium. It is the second time this season, Liberty has gone 12 innings to get an outcome as the Flames took 2-of-3 from the Chanticleers in the series.
With the win, Liberty moves to 10-5 in the Big South Conference and 31-11 overall, while Coastal Carolina falls to 7-8 in conference and 17-22 overall. It is the first time since 2001, the Flames have taken 2-of-3 from the Chanticleers in a Big South regular season three-game series. In addition, it is the second time Liberty has played 12 innings this season as the Flames defeated Rider, 3-2, in 12 innings at Worthington Stadium on February 26.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 12th inning, Abe Yeakel (Jr., C, Kutztown, Pa.), who had entered the game as pinch runner and stayed in the game as the catcher in the eighth inning, singled to open the frame. Chad Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.) then followed with a walk. The Flames loaded the bases as the Chanticleer third baseman mishandled a sacrifice attempt by Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.). A wild pitch scored Yeakel to knot the score at 3-3 and the Chanticleer reliever Kevin Salmon then intentionally walked Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) to once again load the bases for Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.). After a pitching change by Coastal Carolina, Laurent took the second pitch from left-hander Donnie Pressley up the middle to give the Flames the victory and the series.
With the score knotted at 2-2 in the top of the 12th , Coastal Carolina had push a run across to take a 3-2 lead. Catcher Matt Rademacher walked to open the inning and moved to second on a bunt single by Tyler Bortnick. After first baseman Chris Raber moved pinch runner Justin Huff and Bortnick up a base with a sacrifice bunt, the Flames intentionally walked the next batter, second baseman Aaron Vrable to load the bases. Right fielder Matt Sutton then hit a fly to left field that Huff beat the throw plate to give the Chanticleers a 3-2 lead. However, Liberty reliever Tyler Light (Fr., RHP, San Bernardino, Calif.) was then able to induce the next batter John Mariotti to fly out to right to end the threat.
After a scoreless first three innings, Coastal broke through in the fourth inning on three hits and walk, all with two out. Left fielder Brant Peacher and center fielder David Sappelt both reached on back-to-back singles. The next batter Derek Martin then walked to load the bases and Rademacher followed with a two-run double to left field to make it 2-0 Chanticleers.
With only three hits in the first five innings off Coastal Carolina starter Andy DeLaGarza, Liberty cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth. Miller walked with one out and moved to third on a double to left center field gap by Just. Miller then scored on a sacrifice fly by Grijalva to score the Flames' first run of the day.
Liberty knotted the contest in their next at bat. Patrick Galliard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) singled to open the inning and moved to second on a balk. After a flyout by P.K. Keller (So., CF, St. Petersburg, Fla.) moved the Flames' shortstop to third, Derrick Bennion
(r-Jr., RF, Snohomish, Wash.) plated him with a ground out to the shortstop.
In the eighth inning, the Flames had a chance to break the tie, but the Chanticleers were able to get out of the jam. Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.) singled to open the inning and advanced to second on a walk to Miller. Yeakel came in to pinch run for the catcher and moved to third on a flyout. With two outs and Yeakel on third, Grijalva flew out to Sutton in right, who made a strong throw to the home to catch the runner at home and keep the game tied, 2-2.
Liberty threatened in the bottom of the 10th. Miller singled through the middle with one out and moved to third on a single by Grijalva. After Coastal Carolina loaded the bases by intentionally walking Laurent, Gaillard hit a Texas Leaguer that looked like it might drop, but center fielder Sappelt made a long run and an outstanding diving grab to wiggle out of the jam and send the contest to the 11th inning. The Flames returned the favor in the top of the 11th with another great defensive play as Phil John (Jr., RF, Linwood, N.J.), who had come into the game in the top of the eighth inning, scaled the fence and snatched a would-be home run off the bat of DJ Burns to keep the game knotted.
Light was the winner in relief for Liberty, allowing one run on two hits, while striking out two in three innings to run his record to 2-1 on the season. Starter Dustin Umberger (Fr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) pitched the first nine innings, allowing eight hits and two earned runs while striking out three. The Chanticleer's Salmon took the loss, dropping to 2-4 on the year, giving up four hits and two runs in 3 2/3 innings. Coastal Carolina starter DeLaGarza struck out six in 7 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits.
Grijalva had two hits on the afternoon for the Flames, while Miller scored two runs.. Sappelt and Raber had two hits each for the Chanticleers.
Liberty travels to Fairfax, Va. tomorrow afternoon for a non-conference game against the George Mason Patriots. Game time is set for 3 p.m. Coastal Carolina returns home to host Campbell tomorrow at 7 p.m.