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Liberty Edged in Ninth Inning by Coastal Carolina
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers pushed across the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, edging the Liberty Flames, 5-4, Saturday afternoon in a Big South contest at Watson Stadium.
Liberty drops to 5-3 in the Big South Conference and 15-13 overall. Coastal Carolina moves to 3-2 in the Big South and 17-10 overall.
Liberty took advantage of wildness by Coastal Carolina starter Jim Birmingham in its opening at bat to take a short-lived lead without a hit. The first four Flames to bat in the top of the first inning walked to give Liberty a 1-0 edge. Left fielder Doug Bream drew the bases loaded walk to force in the first run of the contest. Third baseman Tyler Bream followed with a sacrifice fly to score catcher Casey Rasmus for a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the host Chanticleers countered with a two-run home run to tie the contest at 2-2. Third baseman Scott Woodward led off the inning with a double to the left-center field wall. Two batters later, second baseman Tommy La Stella connected for his fifth home run of the year to knot the game.
The Flames struck for a two-out run in the third inning. Doug Bream was hit by a pitch to open the frame and move to second base on a ground out by Tyler Bream. Two batters later, pinch hitter Marcus Grimaldi ripped a single into right field, cashing in the runner and grabbing back the lead, 3-2.
In the fourth inning, each team plated a run. Liberty pushed across a run to add to its advantage in the top of the inning. For the second consecutive inning, the leadoff batter was hit by a pitch. Second baseman Zack Haley received base after being hit. After center fielder Ian Parmley moved Haley to second base with sacrifice bunt, Rasmus ripped a run-producing single into right field to make it, 4-2. In the bottom of the inning, shortstop Taylor Motter hit his second home run of the year, leading off the frame to tighten the Flame advantage back to one at 4-3.
Coastal Carolina tied the game for the second time with a home run in the sixth inning. Right fielder Daniel Bowman led off the home half of the inning with his fifth home run of the season, tying the game at 4-4.
In the top of the eighth inning, Liberty moved a runner into scoring position only to be turned away. With one out, Grimaldi, who took over as the designated hitter in the third inning, beat out an infield single. It was the first runner to reach against Chanticleer reliever Matt Rein since the left-hander entered the contest in the fourth inning. Two batters later, pinch runner Josh Thompson moved to second on a wild pitch, but Rein was able to retire the next inning to end the threat.
Coastal Carolina also left a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the inning. Shortstop Taylor Motter opened the frame with a double and later, moved to third on a wild pitch with two outs. However, Liberty reliever Garrett Baker set down the next three Chanticleer batters to keep the runner from scoring.
After the Flames left Parmley at third base in the top of the inning, Coastal Carolina plated the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Left fielder Jacob May reached on a bunt single and Woodward was hit by a pitch to open the frame. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by center fielder Hayes Orton. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Bowman hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home May for the 5-4 Chanticleer victory.
Baker, the second of three Liberty pitchers in the contest, falls to 3-1 on the season. Baker gave up one run on three hits over 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.
Rein, the last of three Coastal Carolina pitchers, moves to 3-1 on the year with the win. The left-hander pitched six innings of scoreless relief, striking out four batters and walking none.
Parmley and Grimaldi each had two hits for the Flames. Liberty had seven hits in the contest. LaStella, Motter and designated hitter Taylor Hartwick had two hits apiece for the Chanticleers. Coastal Carolina had 10 hits in the game.
Liberty and Coastal Carolina will meet in the final game of their Big South series tomorrow afternoon. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.