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Four-Run Fifth Pushes Flames Past Jaspers
Liberty moves to 13-5 on the year with the victory and takes the three-game series, two games to one. Manhattan falls to 9-6.
The host Flames opened the contest with two runs in the first inning. Shortstop Matt Williams (So., Franklin, Tenn.) led off with a double into the left field corner. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez (Sr., Yucaipa, Calif.) followed with a single to score Williams, giving Liberty a 1-0 advantage. After a double by center fielder Curran Redal (Sr., Moses Lake, Wash.) put two runners in scoring position, third baseman Tyler Bream punched a single to left, plating the second run of the frame, as Liberty jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Manhattan used the long ball in the fourth inning to take its lone advantage in the contest. First baseman Austin Sheffield connected for his second home run of the year, with two runners on and one out, to give the Jaspers a 3-2 edge.
In the top of the fifth, the visitors extended their lead to 4-2. Right fielder Mike McCann hit a two-out solo home run, his second of the year, putting Manhattan up by two.
Liberty grabbed back the lead in the bottom of the inning, plating four runs on four hits. The Flames batted around in the frame. Williams started the uprising with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jimenez. Redal followed by lining a double to the right-center field warning track to chase home the runner with the first run of the frame. The next batter, Bream, singled to cash in Redal, tying the contest, 4-4.
A single by designated hitter Nathan Thompson (Sr., Stoneville, N.C.) and a walk to Austin Taylor (LF, Thomasville, Ga.) loaded the bases with Flames, and two batters later, right fielder Michael Robertson (So., Everett, Wash,) drew a two-out walk to force in a run, putting Liberty into the lead at 5-4. Thompson then scored on a wild pitch, upping the Flames' advantage to 6-4.
In the following at bat, the Flames added a single run to extend their lead to 7-4. With one out in the sixth inning, Jimenez lined a home run over the right field wall, his second of the year.
Liberty also plated a single run in the seventh. Catcher Jerry Neufang (Jr., Stanton, Va.) drew a leadoff walk , stole second base and advanced to third base on a single by Robertson. First baseman Trey Wimmer (Sr., Greenwood, S.C.) followed with an RBI fielder's choice ground out, making it, 8-4, Flames.
Manhattan cut into Liberty's lead in the eighth with its third home run of the contest. With one on, catcher Anthony Armenio hit his second home run of the year to straight away center field, trimming Liberty's advantage to 8-6.
In the ninth, the Jaspers got a man aboard on a one-out single by second baseman Kyle Murphy. J.J. McLeod was then summoned from the bullpen, and the Flames right-hander induced a double-play grounder to close out the 8-6 Liberty victory.
Starter Keegan Linza (Jr., Salisbury, Md.) runs his record to 4-0 on the year, with a solid outing for the Flames. The right-hander allowed six runs on five hits over 8 1/3 innings. He struck out six batters and walked three. McLeod recorded the final two outs to earn his second save of the season.
Mike Gazzola takes the loss to drop to 1-2 on the year. The first of four Jaspers pitchers gave up six runs on eight hits during five innings of work. He struck out two batters and walked four.
Five Flames had two hits in the contest. Williams, Jimenez, Redal, Bream and Robertson each had a pair of safeties in the game. Armenio had two hits for the Jaspers.
Liberty returns to the road, Tuesday. The Flames will travel to Blacksburg, Va., to square off with the Virginia Tech Hokies. First pitch at English Field is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.