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Virginia Tech Squeaks By Liberty, 5-3
A late-game surge by the Hokies was enough to propel Virginia Tech to a 5-3 win, Wednesday afternoon, over the Liberty Lady Flames.
The visiting team outhit the Lady Flames, 9-8, and a two-run seventh frame sealed the win.
Liberty drops to 22-21 overall, while the Hokies improve to 34-16.
Katie Zavodny led off the Liberty at-bat with an infield single in the bottom of the first, the first hit of the contest. She then stole second before Keely McMillon flied out to center field, and moved to third when Kelly Strickland grounded out.
But the Lady Flames stayed scoreless, as Ashley Bensinger grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
With two outs in the top of the second, the game was suspended due to a nearby lightning strike, and a 50-minute lightning delay ensued.
Richelle McGarva drew a walk when play resumed, then stole second. When Kat Banks hit a grounder to shortstop Sammi Shivock, McGarva was called out on runner's interference for the third out.
Kristina Cruz recorded the Hokies' first hit of the game in the top of the second with a single through the right side. Pinch-runner Sarah Ashby stole second to move into scoring position, but the Liberty defense came up with three straight outs to keep the game tied, 0-0.
The Lady Flames recorded two more hits in the bottom of the third. Shivock led off with a single up the middle, but was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice by Amber DePasquale with a grounder to the pitcher.
DePasquale immediately stole second, and Zavodny reached on an infield single with a well-placed bunt.
But the runners stayed stranded, as McMillon and Strickland both grounded out.
The Hokies took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Liddle drew a walk, and one out later, was safe at second on a muffed throw by Kelly Strickland. She moved to third on a single by McGarva, and scored when Banks grounded out.
Meredith Crisante got on base in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out double to right center. But Kaylee West flied out to left for the third out, sending the game into the fifth inning with a 1-0 Virginia Tech advantage.
The Hokies extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth. With one out, Laura Wolff singled to shortstop, then stole second. She moved to third when Liddle grounded out, then scored on a wild pitch by Katrina Johnson.
A solo home run to center field by Betty Rose cushioned Virginia Tech's lead, moving the score to 3-0 in the top of the sixth.
The Lady Flames made a threat in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. Crisante started the surge with a single up the middle, and West drew a walk. Shivock was then hit by a pitch to bring up DePasquale. The Lady Flames then scored their first run of the game, when DePasquale singled to left.
Pinch hitter Jill Stephens then tied the game, dropping a single into shallow left field to score two runs and bring the score to 3-3. That prompted a Virginia Tech pitching change, as Jasmine Harrell came in to replace Kenzie Roark. Harrell came up with a big strikeout, fanning McMillon to end the inning.
Bkaye Smith led off the top of the seventh by singling down the left field line. Next, Ward singled with a ball that bounced off the glove of Johnson, and spun away from Shivock at shortstop to allow Smith to move to third. Ward then stole second, and one out later, two runs scored when Liddle singled up the middle, giving the visitors a 5-3 lead.
The Lady Flames couldn't muster a comeback in the bottom of the seventh, allowing the Hokies to escape with the narrow 5-3 win.
Zavodny was 2-for-2 at the plate for Liberty, and Stephens drove in two runs. DePasquale was 2-for-3 and drove in a run for the Lady Flames.
Ward was 2-for-4 to lead Virginia Tech, while Liddle was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Johnson (11-7) took the loss in the circle, giving up eight hits and four earned runs while striking out eight batters in seven complete innings. Harrell picked up the win to improve to 16-8, giving up no hits and no runs while striking out two batters in 1.1 innings of work.
The two teams are back in action for game two of a non-conference doubleheader later this afternoon.