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Laurent Becomes Liberty Hit King as Flames Down Bulldogs in First Game of Doubleheader

May 13, 2006
|  Asheville, N.C.
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Laurent Becomes Liberty Hit King as Flames Down Bulldogs in First Game of Doubleheader
Phillip Laurent became the all-time school hit leader by going 4-for-5 with a home run, five RBI and three runs scored as the Liberty Flames had season-highs in runs and hits in defeating the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, 20-3, in the first game of their Big South doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Greenwood Field.
Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.) came into the contest needing four hits to surpass Larry Wayne York who held the Liberty career mark with 262 hits from 2000-2003.  With three hits in his first four at bats, the left fielder stepped to the plate in the eighth inning and hit a run-scoring single to right field for career hit 263, breaking the record.
Laurent's four were part of a 26 hit outburst by the Flames, their highest hit total of the season.  Liberty also scored 20 runs also a season-high. 
UNC Asheville opened up the scoring with a single run in the bottom of the half of the first.  Center fielder Kevin Mattison led off with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.  Elliot Arrington then doubled to center to plate Mattison for an early 1-0 lead.
Liberty came back to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.  Laurent opened the frame with a double to the left center field gap. After the next two batters were retired, Derek Bennion (r-Jr., DH, Snohomish, Wash.) walked to continue the inning and Phil John followed by dropping a double inside the left field line to score both Flames' runners.
The Bulldogs knotted the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning.  Arrington drew a lead off walk and moved to second on a wild pitch.  The right fielder then scored as second baseman Kyle Smith singled to right field.
The Flames struck for three more runs in the fifth.  Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) singled with one out and move to third base on a throwing error by the Bulldog pitcher on a pick off attempt.  Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) followed with a sharply hit single up the middle to score Just.  Grijalva then scored in front of next batter Laurent's ninth home run of the year over the center field wall to put Liberty up, 5-2.   
After Flames' starter Dustin Umberger (Fr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) pitched out of a bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Liberty broke opened the game by batting around in the top of the sixth.  Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.) started the big inning by doubling off the left field wall.  Chad Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.) then laid down a bunt for a hit to put Flames on the corners.  Just followed with a single to plate Hollinger.  The Bulldog pitcher then committed a fielding error on a sacrifice bunt by Grijalva allowing the Liberty first baseman to reach and load the bases. Laurent was hit by a pitch forcing in the second run of the inning and Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) delivered a two-run single to make it, 9-3.  Gaillard later scored in the inning on a wild pitch to put the Flames up, 10-3.
In the seventh, Liberty added three more runs capped by Laurent tying the school's all-time career mark for hits.  The Flames loaded the bases with no one out for the left fielder and he singled to left center scoring two runs.  He later scored on a RBI single by Bennion.
Liberty added five more in the eighth highlighted by a RBI single by Laurent, which made the senior left fielder the all-time hit leader and added a run in the ninth. 
Besides Laurent's 4-of-5 contest, Just also was 4-for-5, while Gaillard and Miller had three each.
Umberger runs his mark to 3-1 on the season as he allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings, while striking out five and walking three.  Jason Koziol (Fr., RHP, Paramus, N.J.) earned his first save of the season pitching three scoreless innings. Junior left-hander Chris Nigro falls to 5-8 for UNC Asheville.  One of five Bulldog pitchers, he gave up six runs on 10 hits, while striking out six and two walks in five innings. 

With the win, Liberty moves to 34-16 overall and 12-8 in the Big South, while UNC Asheville drops to 23-28 overall and 10-11 in the conference.