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15 Hits Lifts Liberty over Gardner-Webb
Keely McMillon hit her first career grand slam and five different Lady Flames had multiple-hit games, as the Liberty Lady Flames took a 14-3 victory over Gardner-Webb, Friday afternoon in game one of a Big South doubleheader.
The Runnin' Bulldogs led for the first four innings, until the Lady Flames took control with four runs in the fifth and six runs in the sixth.
Liberty improves to 16-18 overall and 6-3 in the Big South, having won four of its last five league contests. Gardner-Webb, who was playing in its ninth-straight league game, falls to 11-20 and 3-6 in conference play.
The Runnin' Bulldogs struck first, scoring two runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. Samantha Meenaghan led off with an infield single, and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Jordyn Arrowood. She came home when Morgan Baker singled up the middle, and Baker scored when McKenzie Morenus traded places with her with a double for a 2-0 Gardner-Webb lead.
The Lady Flames recorded their first hits in the top of the third, when Ashley Bensinger and Jenny Law pieced together back-to-back singles. But they never advanced, as Kaylee West struck out and Jill Stephens grounded out.
After four quiet frames for both teams, Meredith Crisante led off the top of the fifth with a single to left. One out later, she stole second, then, the Lady Flames started a two-out rally. Keely McMillon stepped up and ripped a two-run homer down the left field line to tie the game. Kelly Strickland drew a walk, and advanced to third on a Bensinger infield single. Both runners crossed home on a double by Jenny Law, giving the Lady Flames a 4-2 advantage.
The Bulldogs responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth, cutting Liberty's lead in half. With one out, Melinda Dulkowski singled to center field, and moved all the way to third an out later when Arrowood singled to the pitcher. Dulkowski then scored on a wild pitch by Tiffani Smith, bringing the score to 4-3.
The Lady Flames padded their lead in the top of the sixth, putting six runs on the scoreboard. Stephens led off with a walk, and was replaced at first by pinch-runner Katie Zavodny. Crisante then reached on a bunt single and Zavodny moved to second. Zavodny then scored when Amber DePasquale singled through the left side.
The Lady Flames kept things rolling, as Shivock tapped a bunt back to the pitcher, who started to make the play at third, then stopped herself. Before she could make the throw to first, Shivock was already safe and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Next up, McMillon drilled her second home run of the game and her first career grand slam, giving Liberty a comfortable 9-3 lead.
Liberty didn't stop there, as Strickland singled through the left side, and moved to third when Bensinger doubled to right center. Next, Strickland scored when Law grounded out to second, giving Liberty a 10-3 advantage.
Four more Liberty runs gave the Lady Flames a 14-3 lead in the top of the seventh, when Strickland ripped a three-run homer, and Law drove in another run with her second double on the day. Bensinger scored on that play, and she reached on an infield single.
The Bulldogs couldn't muster any more runs in the bottom of the seventh, and Liberty walked away with the 14-3 win.
For the second game in a row, Liberty's bats came alive, as the Lady Flames pounded out 15 hits, with 13 of the 15 base hits coming during the final three frames. Liberty finished the game with 14 runs, the most the team has scored since a 14-1 victory over Rhode Island on March 3, 2007.
McMillon led the Lady Flames, batting 2-for-3 with two homers and a career-best six RBIs. Bensinger was 4-for-4 at the plate, while Law was 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs.
Bensinger's career-best effort in the contest tied a school record with four hits. The senior is now 6-for-6 during the last two games and has reached base in seven straight at bats.
Gardner-Webb was led by Morenus, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Smith picked up the win in the circle, her second in a row, improving to 6-10 on the year. She gave up eight hits and struck out six batters in six complete innings.
Jessica Childers (7-9) took the loss, giving up eight hits and striking out five in five innings of work.
The two teams face off again this afternoon for the second game of the doubleheader.