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Bream's Second Home Run Gives Flames Win
Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Liberty third baseman Tyler Bream blasted a two-run home run, his second of the contest, giving the Flames a 7-6 walk-off victory over the VCU Rams at Worthington Stadium, Tuesday.
With a win in their final home game of the 2010 season, Liberty moves to 38-15 on the season. The Flames' victory total is the third highest in school history and two wins shy of the school record of 40, set by the 1983 Liberty team. The Flames complete their home season with a 19-9 record. VCU drops to 30-21-1.
Behind by a run in the ninth, Liberty center fielder Curran Redal led off the bottom half of the final inning with a single to left field off VCU pitcher Robbie Andrews and moved to second base on a ground out by shortstop Matt Williams. Bream followed by belting the first pitch from the Ram closer over the left field wall and into the Liberty bullpen for the 7-6 victory.
The home run was his second of the afternoon and seventh of the season. Bream evened the contest at 1-1 with a two-out roundtripper in the bottom of the game's opening inning. The Liberty third baseman had four hits and drove in four runs in the contest.
The blast was Bream's second career walk-off home run, as the sophomore hit a three-run home run on April 22 of last year to provide the Flames with a 4-3 win over Virginia Tech.
The visiting Rams got on the scoreboard in their opening at bat. With one out, second baseman Richard Gonzalez walked and moved to third base on a single by third baseman Joe Van Meter. After the next VCU batter struck out, Gonzalez scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 advantage. First baseman Brent Mikionis followed with a single to right field. However, Flames right fielder Michael Robertson threw Van Meter out at home plate trying to score to end the inning.
Liberty answered with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the frame, with Bream's first home run of the afternoon to tie the game.
VCU pushed across two more runs in the second. Shortstop Nick Kime and catcher Taylor Perkins opened the frame with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. After a wild pitch allowed Perkins to move into scoring position by advancing to second base, the next batter, center fielder M.L. Morgan, looped an opposite field single into left field to bring home Kime for the first run of the inning. A wild pitch then enabled Perkins to score from third for a 3-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, the Flames countered with a run. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez began the home half of the frame with a single. Three batters later, Robertson lined a two-out triple into right field, plating Jimenez, trimming the Ram edge to 3-2.
Liberty took its first lead of the contest in the fifth. Redal was hit by the pitch and advanced to third on a double lined down the left field lined by Williams to open the inning. Bream followed by ripping a single back through the infield and into center field, scoring Redal to tie the contest at 3-3. Pinch hitter Jeff Jefferson followed by sending a sacrifice fly to the center field warning track to bring home Williams, giving the Flames a 4-3 advantage.
VCU tied the game in the top of the seventh. Morgan, who led off the inning with a single, stole second base with two outs, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a wild pitch to tie the contest at 4-4.
The Rams went back on top in the eighth. With one out, shortstop Nick Kime doubled into the left-center field gap and tallied the go ahead run, as the batter, Perkins, singled to center field. Two batters later with Perkins on second, the VCU catcher moved to third base on a grounder by Morgan and scored when Williams' throw to first base in an attempt to turn a double play went off the glove of pitcher Dane Beakler for an error to make it, 6-4.
Liberty closed its gap to one in the home half of the inning. Designated hitter Jefferson walked and Jimenez dropped a single into left field to begin the frame. Catcher Nathan Thompson moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Wimmer plated Jefferson with a RBI ground out, cutting the Ram advantage to 6-5. However, VCU pitcher Jonathan Watson was able to strand Jimenez, the tying run, on third base by getting the next Flame to line out to left field, setting up the Liberty rally in the ninth.
Flames reliever Josh Richardson, the last of four Liberty pitchers in the contest, picks up the win to even his record at 1-1 on the year, with an inning of scoreless relief.
VCU's Andrews falls to 0-2. The right-hander pitched to three batters in the ninth.
Jimenez chipped in two hits for the Flames in the contest. Van Meter led the Rams with three hits.
Liberty wraps up the 2010 regular season with a three-game, conference series at Rock Hill, S.C., the site of this year's Big South Baseball Championship. The Flames will square off with the Winthrop Eagles, Thursday through Saturday. Game time for the opening contest Thursday is scheduled for 6 p.m.