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Flames Fall in Regular Season Finale
The Liberty Flames could not overcome a six-run third inning by Winthrop, falling to the Eagles, 8-5, Saturday afternoon in a Big South Conference contest. The game was the final contest of the 2010 regular season for both teams.
Liberty drops to 19-8 in Big South play and 39-17 overall. The Flames, who have clinched the No. 2 seed for next week's Big South Conference Championship at Rock Hill, S.C., set a new standard for conference wins in a season despite the loss. Winthrop moves its conference record to 13-14 and 25-28 overall on the year.
Winthrop jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the second inning. Designated hitter Matt Thielepape led off the frame with his 10th home run of the year, sending a liner over the right field wall for an Eagle lead.
In the top of the third, Liberty took advantage of a two-out double by left fielder Kenneth Negron. After Negron lined an opposite-field double into left-center field, center fielder Curran Redal grounded to shortstop Adam Glieble. However, Glieble's throw to first was high, allowing Negron to score to tie the contest at 1-1.
Winthrop answered in the bottom of the inning, going back into the lead with six runs. Center fielder Tyler McBride walked and moved to second on a ground out by right field Sean Sullivan. Second baseman Tyler Cook followed with a single to bring home McBride for a 2-1 edge. After catcher Eddie Rohan walked, third baseman Chas Crane grounded to first for an out. However, Liberty first baseman Doug Bream throw went wide of second base and into left field, trying to complete a double play, allowing Cook to come home with the Eagles' second run of inning.
Two batters later with two runners in scoring position, first baseman Patrick Gamblin singled, plating both runners to extend the Winthrop lead to 5-1. After a single by left fielder Max Vogel, Gliebe doubled in two more runs for a 7-1 lead.
Liberty cut into the Winthrop advantage with three runs in the top of the sixth. Third baseman Tyler Bream singled and designated hitter Jeff Jefferson walked to open the inning. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez followed by ripping a double into right-center, cashing in both runners to make it, 7-3, Eagles. Right fielder Michael Robertson later scored Jimenez with a two-out single, trimming the host's edge to 7-4.
In the seventh, the Flames pushed a run across to further cut the Winthrop lead. Redal led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a single by Williams. After the next two Liberty batters were retired, Jimenez dropped a single into center field to plate Redal to make it, 7-5, Eagles.
Winthrop added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. With two out and McBride on second after reaching on an error by Jimenez, Sullivan dropped a run-scoring single into right field to up its advantage to 8-5.
Liberty put runners on the corners with two out in the ninth against reliever Matt Pierpont. However, the right-hander was able to retire the next Flame hitter to seal the 8-5 victory for Winthrop.
Liberty starter Dustin Umberger drops to 2-4 on the season. The senior allowed six runs on five hits during 2 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked three batters. Right-hander Josh Richardson followed with five innings of relief, giving up two runs on four hits. He struck out three batters and walked two. J.J. McLeod recorded the last out for the Flames.
On a staff day, Winthrop starter Tyler Mizenko picks up the win to move to 3-3 on the year. The right-hander pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit. He struck out one batter. Pierpont, the last of five Eagle pitchers in the contest, records his save of the year.
Liberty will return to Rock Hill, S.C., on Wednesday for the opening day of the Big South Baseball Championship. The Flames, the double-elimination tournament's No. 2 seed, will meet the highest seeded team remaining from Tuesday's play-in games. Game time has yet to be announced.