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Eight-Run Second Propels LU to Toman's 100th
Liberty scored eight runs in the second inning and never looked back, handing head coach Jim Toman his 100th career victory, a 10-7 win over the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, Sunday afternoon at Worthington Stadium. The triumph completed the Flames' sweep of the three-game Big South series.
With its 12-game Big South winning streak, the longest in school history, Liberty moves to 15-3 in conference play and 32-12 overall. Gardner-Webb falls to 7-11 in the Big South standings and 20-23 overall.
Toman, the sixth coach in program history, reaches 100 career coaching wins, all at Liberty. He becomes the fastest in school history to reach the milestone, passing program founder and first coach Al Worthington. Toman reaches his 100th win in 160 games, six fewer than Worthington.
Gardner-Webb started the contest with three first-inning runs. The Bulldogs began the game with three-straight hits to produce the first run of the contest.
Second baseman Daniel Merck and right fielder Adam McFarland led off the opening frame with back-to-back singles and scored on a double into the right corner by third baseman Kurt Fulginiti for a 1-0 lead, the Bulldogs' first of the three-game series. Left fielder Jake Watts and designated hitter O.J. McFarland each followed with RBI ground outs, staking the visitors to a 3-0 advantage.
Liberty erased its early deficit in the second inning. With the bases full of Flames and one out, center fielder Curran Redal ripped a double into the right field corner, plating the first two runs of the frame. First baseman Doug Bream followed with a two-run single, putting Liberty on top, 4-3.
Two batters later, Justin Richardson singled through the right side with two outs, chasing home another run for a 5-3 advantage, and beginning a run of four consecutive two-out base hits for the Flames. After shortstop Matt Williams reached on a single, second baseman P.J. Jimenez delivered another run with a RBI double. When the return throw to the infield by Watts got away from Fulginiti at third base, Williams scored for a 7-3 lead. Catcher Nathan Thompson capped the largest run-scoring inning of the season for Liberty with a RBI single, giving the Flames an 8-3 lead.
Liberty tacked on additional runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Williams led off the fourth with a single, stole second and scored on a double by Jimenez. In the fifth, third baseman Tyler Bream doubled and came home on a two-out fielding error by Merck, upping the Flames' advantage to 10-3.
The visiting Bulldogs cut into their deficit with three runs in the sixth inning. With one out, Watts hit his second home run of the season for the first run of the frame. O.J. McFarland followed with a single and was aboard, when Drewery homered to straight-away center field, his 10th of the year, slicing the Liberty edge to 10-6.
In the ninth, Fulginiti hit his eighth home run of the year to open the inning, producing the final score of 10-7.
Liberty starter Dustin Umberger moves to 1-2 on the season. The right-hander allowed six runs on nine hits and struck out two batters in 5 2/3 innings of work. With the two strikeouts, Umberger is now tied for fourth on the program's career strikeout list with former Flames standout Lee Gutterman with 220.
Making his first start of the season, Gardner-Webb's Adam Izokovic falls to 5-3 on the year. The first of four Bulldogs to take the mound in the contest, Izokovic was roughed up for nine runs on 10 hits over three innings.
Jimenez paced the Flames at the plate in the contest with three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Tyler Bream and Williams each added two hits apiece for Liberty. Five Bulldogs, Merck, Adam McFarland, Fulginiti, catcher Ty Boyles and center fielder Benji Jackson had two hits each in the contest.
Liberty steps out of conference for its next contest on Tuesday. The Flames will travel across the Commonwealth to Fairfax, Va., to square off with the George Mason Patriots. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.