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Spectacular Comeback Helps Liberty Defeat Gardner-Webb
The Liberty Lady Flames scored seven runs in the seventh inning to come back and tie the game, Saturday afternoon. Liberty then went on to defeat Gardner-Webb, 11-8, in eight innings.
Liberty trailed, 8-1, going into the seventh frame. After seven runs on seven hits tied it, 8-8, the Lady Flames added three more runs in the eighth and held the home team scoreless to earn their first extra-inning victory of the season.
With the win, the Lady Flames complete the sweep over Gardner-Webb, after winning the first two games, 14-3 and 5-2, yesterday afternoon.
Liberty improves to 18-18 overall and 8-3 in conference play, while Gardner-Webb drops to 11-22 overall and 3-8 in the Big South.
The Runnin' Bulldogs struck first, taking a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a triple by Jane Savage that scored Samantha Meenaghan and Morgan Baker.
The Lady Flames responded with a run of their own in the top of the second. Jenny Law led off by reaching on an error by second baseman Meenaghan, and moved to second on a sac bunt by Meredith Crisante. One out later, Law came home on a single to center by Bridgett Woods, bringing the score to 2-1.
Liberty put a runner on third with two outs in the top of the third. Kaylee West singled through the right side, and moved all the way to third when Bridgett Woods reached on another Meenaghan error. But Cindy Boomhower came up with a timely strikeout to keep the Lady Flames from scoring and maintain her team's one-run edge.
Liberty struggled in the bottom of the fourth, as Gardner-Webb scored three runs on two hits and two Lady Flames errors. With one out, Kelsey Witter singled up the middle, and Rachel Jablonski drew a walk. Melinda Dulkowski then singled on a well-placed bunt to load the bases.
After Emily Bowman flied out, two straight Liberty errors led to three unearned Runnin' Bulldogs runs, giving the home team a 5-1 advantage.
Gardner-Webb bolstered its lead in the bottom of the fifth. McKenzie Morenus led off with a walk, and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Savage. She scored on another Liberty miscue, as Witter reached and advanced to second on the throw with only one out.
Next, Witter advanced to third on a groundout by Jablonski, and crossed home on a single down the right field line by Dulkowski to extend Gardner-Webb's lead to 7-1.
After the Liberty bats stayed silent in the top of the sixth, the Runnin' Bulldogs added yet another run to their total in the bottom half of the frame. With one out, Jordyn Arrowood singled through the left side, then stole second. She scored on the next play, when Baker singled through the right side for an RBI and an 8-1 score.
In what could have been Liberty's final at-bat, West led off with a single to left center. One out later, Amber DePasquale singled down the left field line, and pinch runner Katie Zavodny advanced to second.
Both runners advanced on the tag when Sammi Shivock flied out to left, and Keely McMillon brought both Lady Flames home on a single to center field, bringing the score to 8-3.
Liberty continued its rally, as Strickland followed up with a double to right center, scoring pinch runner Grace Nordan. Then, Ashley Bensinger reached on a fielding error by third baseman Jablonski, and Strickland moved over to third to put runners on the corners with two outs.
Law reached on an infield single to score Strickland, moving Bensinger over to second. Next, Crisante drove in two runs with a single to left center, and moved to second on a bobble by Witter in left field.
West drove in the tying run with a single, sending the game into the bottom of the seventh at 8-8.
After a scoreless Runnin' Bulldogs at-bat, the contest went into extra innings.
Shivock led off the top of the eighth with a single up the middle, then moved to second on a wild pitch by Boomhower. After McMillon and Strickland flied out, Bensinger singled on a hard shot to third. Law drove in Shivock from third with a single through the right side, with what proved to be the winning run. Next up, Crisante put the Lady Flames ahead, 11-8, with a two-run single up the middle.
Gardner-Webb couldn't answer in the bottom of the eighth, and the Lady Flames walked away with the 11-8 victory.
Crisante led the Lady Flames' 15-hit attack, batting 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Law was 2-for-5 at the plate and drove in two runs, one apiece in the decisive seventh and eighth innings.
Savage paced the Runnin' Bulldogs, batting 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Tiffani Smith picked up the win in the circle to improve to 6-10 on the year, after giving up four hits and allowing just one earned run in 2.2 innings of work. Boomhower (4-12) took the loss, giving up 11 hits in 5.1 innings pitched.
The Lady Flames return home for two non-conference doubleheaders next week, hosting Hampton on Tuesday and Norfolk State on Wednesday.
Gardner-Webb will next face Winthrop on Tuesday at 5 p.m.