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UNC Greensboro Edges Liberty, 7-6
Despite eight hits and Kelly Strickland's second home run of the day, the Lady Flames dropped a close 7-6 decision to UNC Greensboro, Wednesday afternoon.
With the win, the Spartans completed the sweep of a non-conference doubleheader at home. UNC Greensboro won the first game, 9-1.
The Spartans took an early lead, going ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Alex Emeterio drew a walk from Liberty starter Alyssa DiMartino, and then moved to second on an illegal pitch. She scored on the next play, when Kaitlin Merkt doubled to right center.
That lead didn't last long, as the Lady Flames came back to tie it up in the top of the second. Kaylee West kicked the frame off with a walk and then was safe at second when Merkt muffed the throw on a grounder by Meredith Crisante. After Bridgett Woods walked, West scored on a sac fly to center field by Amber DePasquale, bringing the score to 1-1.
UNC Greensboro regained the lead in the bottom of the second, when Katelyn Bedwell knocked a two-run homer over the center field fence, giving the Spartans a 3-1 advantage.
After a quiet third inning, the UNC Greensboro bats exploded in the bottom of the fourth, as the Spartans scored four runs on five hits for a 7-1 score. Heather Robb, Jordan Jewett, Bedwell, April Langley and Kristen Gabel each recorded singles during the streak, during which Tiffani Smith came in to relieve DiMartino.
Strickland came up big in the top of the fifth with her second home run of the day, scoring herself and Katie Zavodny, who reached on a single through the right side. Jenny Law then singled on a blooper to right field, and West doubled to left center to put runners on second and third with only one out.
After a pitching change by UNC Greensboro, Liberty head coach Paul Wetmore called on Grace Nordan to pinch hit, and the freshman walked to load the bases.
Pinch hitter Syndei Lester then struck out, bringing up DePasquale. The senior recorded a timely hit with a hard grounder to second, scoring Law and West for a 7-5 ball game.
In the top of the sixth, Keely McMillon drew a one-out walk, and pinch-runner Marybeth Sciolino took her place. Strickland then singled through the right side to move Sciolino into scoring position.
After Law flied out deep to left for the second out, West walked to load the bases and bring up Nordan. Nordan fared the same, drawing a walk for an RBI and a 7-6 score. With the bases still loaded, Woods lined out to shortstop to send the game into the bottom of the sixth.
The Spartans made a threat in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on second and third with two outs. But Shivock made a diving catch on a liner at shortstop from Alex Emeterio, sending the contest into the final inning.
The Lady Flames couldn't generate any offense in the top of the seventh, allowing the Spartans to walk away with the 7-6 win.
Strickland led the Lady Flames, going 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. DePasquale was 1-for-2 and drove in three runs.
Bedwell led the Spartans, going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Raeanne Hanks picked up the win in the circle to improve to 4-2 on the year, giving up six hits and striking out four Liberty batters in 4.1 innings. Cory Mattson picked up her second save of the day, giving up two hits in 2.2 innings.
DiMartino (1-3) took the loss, giving up five hits and five earned runs in three complete innings.
Liberty is back in action on Friday and Saturday, hosting Charleston Southern in a three-game series. First pitch for Friday's Big South doubleheader is at 2 p.m.