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Liberty Falls to High Point, 6-2
The Liberty Flames dropped the opening game of their three-game Big South series, 6-2, Friday night at Coy O. Willard Stadium.
Liberty falls to 5-5 in the Big South play and 15-16 overall. The Flames have lost five straight games. High Point moves to 4-6 in conference action and 17-16 overall.
The host Panthers opened the contest by striking for a run in their first at bat of the evening. Third baseman Mike Mercurio led off the home half of the first inning with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by first baseman Drew Geissinger. After a fly out for the second out of the frame, designated hitter Scott Glover doubled off the wall in right fielder to plate Mercurio and give High Point a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Liberty took advantage of a Panther miscue with two outs to take the lead. With two away, third baseman Tyler Bream reached on throwing error by High Point shortstop Preston Packrall and moved to second base as the ball rolled into the Flames' dugout.
Left fielder Doug Bream followed by lining a run-scoring triple to warning track in center field, tying the game at 1-1. The next batter, right fielder Michael Robertson, ripped a RBI double to center field, giving Liberty a 2-1 advantage.
High Point pushed across two runs in the fourth inning to go back in front. Center fielder Ryan Retz reached on a throwing error by Flames third baseman Tyler Bream to open the stanza. On second base, Retz moved to third base on a ground out by left fielder Mike Gragilla and knotted the contest on a single by catcher Kyle Mahoney. After the next two batters reached to load the bases, the Flames were able to cut down the runner at home on a ground ball to first baseman Austin Taylor. The Panthers then took the lead on wild pitch, making it, 3-2
In the fifth inning, High Point added to their edge with an unearned run. Second baseman Murray White IV led off the frame with a single through the middle of the infield and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Retz. Gragilla followed with a single to center field and when the ball got past Liberty center fielder Ian Parmley, White scored, upping the Panther lead to 4-2.
High Point added to its advantage in the seventh. Right fielder Steve Antolik began the bottom of the seventh with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Glover. Two batters later, Reitz single through the left side for a 5-2 Panther lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, High Point added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly by Mercurio.
Liberty starter Keegan Linza falls to 5-2 on the year. The right-hander gave up five runs, two earned, on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He did not strike out a batter and walked three.
High Point starter Cody Allen pitched eight innings to run his record to 3-3 on the season. He allowed two runs on five hits, striking out eight batters and walking two. After settling in, the right-hander retired 10 consecutive batters from the third through the seventh inning.
Antolik, Retz and Mahoney each had two hits each for the Panthers, who had 11 hits in the contest. The Flames had five hits.
Liberty and High Point will meet again in the middle game of their Big South series tomorrow night at Coy Willard Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.