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Bream Drives in Four in Season-Opening Win
The Flames move to 1-0 on the year and 24-11 in season openers since 1976. The Owls fall to 0-1.
Liberty opened the contest with two runs in the top half of the opening inning. After P.J. Jimenez ( Sr.,3B, Yucaipa, Calif.) reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second base as Curran Redal (Sr., CF,, Moses Lake, Wash.) was hit by a pitch, Bream (So., 3B, Zelienople, Pa.) ripped a run-scoring double down the right field line for a 1-0 lead. Michael Robertson (So., RF, Everett, Wash.) followed with a squeeze bunt to plate Redal and give the Flames an early 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the frame, the host Owls had their first three batters reach safely to load the bases with no one out. After the first batter of the inning was retired with a strikeout, catcher Ronnie Freemen walked to force in a run, making it 2-1 Liberty. However, Flames starter Shawn Teufel (Sr., LHP, Tequesta, Fla.) was able to retire the next two batters to get out of the jam and prevent any further scoring.
Redal opened the third inning with a single through the middle of the infield. The senior center fielder moved to second on a wild pitch and then stole third base. Two batters later, Robertson bounced a single past Owl second baseman Sean McClurken, chasing home Redal for a 3-1 Liberty lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, host Kennesaw State moved runners into scoring position with runners on both second and third with two outs. However, reliever Carter Browning (Sr., RHP, Ada, Okla.) stranded the runners by inducing first baseman Ross Tendler to fly out to center field for the third out of the inning.
The Flames extended their advantage, erupting for four runs on four hits in the top of the sixth. With no outs, shortstop Matt Williams (So., SS, Franklin, Tenn.) dropped a base-loaded single into center field to make it, 4-1. Two batters later, Redal lined a two-run single down the right-field line, upping Liberty's lead to 6-1. Bream followed with a fly ball to center field, which was misplayed for an error by Owl center fielder Jordan Craft. Williams scored on the play for a 7-1 Liberty advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Kennesaw State once again loaded the bases against Browning. This time, the Owls broke through against the right-hander, as Craft was hit by a pitch to force across the first run of the frame. The hosts pushed the second run of the inning across, when reliever Cameron Giannini (Fr., RHP, Danville, Va.) got the next batter, shortstop Tyler Stubblefield, to ground out, trimming the Liberty lead to 7-3.
The teams exchanged runs in the seventh inning. The Flames added a run in the top of frame on a sacrifice fly by Williams. The Owls scored a run in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Clint Roques.
In the eighth, Bream connected for the first Liberty home run of the season, a two-run blast over the roof of the building in left field, giving the Flames a 10-4 advantage.
Teufel, the first of five Liberty pitchers, records the win to start the season, 1-0. The senior allowed one run and one hit over four innings of work. He struck out seven and walked four. Flame hurlers gave-up four runs on six hits, striking out 13 batters and walking five.
Owls starter Rodenbaugh drops to 0-1. He allowed three runs on three hits over three innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked two.
Bream led all hitters with his three hits, while teammates Redal and Williams each had two hits. McClurken had two hits for the Owls.
Liberty and Kennesaw State meet again tomorrow in the middle game of the three-game weekend series. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.