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Beakler Highlights Liberty Win
With the win, the Flames run their record to 10-3 in the Big South and 27-11 overall. Liberty has won seven-straight Big South contests and 14 of its last 17 contests. Presbyterian falls to 3-10 in conference play and 11-26 overall.
Beakler entered the game in the bottom of the first inning for the Flames and quickly restored order to move to 4-2 on the year. The senior right-hander pitched 6 2/3 scoreless frames of relief, striking out a personal career-high and Liberty season-high of 15 batters.
The strikeout total is the most by a Flames pitcher since Dan Valentin had 15 strikeouts in a complete game, 5-0 shutout victory at UNC Asheville on April 29, 2000. The Liberty record for a single game is 20 strikeouts by Benji Miller in a 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on May 10, 1998 to clinch the Flames' second Big South title.
With two outs, Liberty struck for two runs in its opening at bat. Third baseman Tyler Bream and Nathan Thompson each singled. Shortstop Matt Williams followed with a RBI single for the first run of the contest. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez then reached, when Blue Hose first baseman dropped the throw on a ground ball to second, allowing Thompson to score for an early 2-0 advantage.
Presbyterian answered in the bottom of the first inning. Shortstop Gabe Grammer walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored the home team's first run on a single by catcher Tony Micklon. Designated hitter Nate Horton followed with a RBI double, tying the contest at 2-2.
After a walk to center fielder Aaron Preston loaded the bases, third baseman Ryan Morris walked to force in a run for a 3-2 Blue Hose advantage. A fielding error by Williams on a two-out grounder by right fielder Jesse Harmon capped the inning and gave Presbyterian a 4-2 lead.
Liberty took the advantage back in the top of the second inning. Left fielder Kenneth Negron was hit by a pitch and moved to third base on a double by center fielder Curran Redal. Designated hitter Doug Bream pushed across the first run of the uprising with an infield single. Two batters later, Thompson laced a double into the left field corner to cash in Redal ant knot the score at 4-4.
Williams followed with an infield single to plate Doug Bream, putting Liberty back into the lead at 5-4. After Jimenez reached on a fielder's choice, the Liberty second baseman stole second with runners on the corners, and when catcher Micklon's throw sailed wide into center field, Thompson came home from third for a 6-4 Flames advantage.
In the fourth, Tyler Bream added to the Liberty lead. Bream ripped his fourth home run of the season inside the left field foul pole, upping the advantage to 7-4.
The Flames tacked on an additional run in the seventh inning. With one out, first baseman Trey Wimmer smacked a liner off the glove of the third baseman. Two batters later, Redal singled through the hole between the second and first baseman to up the Liberty lead to 8-4.
In the ninth, a Presbyterian rally fell short against Flame pitcher Josh Richardson. After the first two batters of the inning reached, second baseman Alex Loftin singled to drive in the first run of the inning. Harmon followed with a run-scoring single, cutting the Liberty margin to 8-6. A sacrifice fly by third baseman Matt Hill trimmed the lead to a precarious 8-7 edge and moved the tying run to third with two outs. However, Richardson was able to get Grammer to fly out to close out the victory for the Flames.
Presbyterian starter Joe Hammond takes the loss to fall to 0-5 on the season. He was roughed up for six runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.
A trio of Flames each had three hits in the contest. Redal, Tyler Bream and Williams had three hits apiece. First baseman Kenny Bryant, Horton and Harmon had two hits each for the Blue Hose.
Due to forecasted inclement weather for the Clinton area, the two teams will meet again tomorrow in a doubleheader. Game one's first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.