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Walk-off Home Run by Williams Pushes Flames Past Bulldogs
A two-run home run by Liberty shortstop Matt Wiliams capped a three-run, ninth inning rally, propelling the Flames past the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, 3-2, Thursday night in a Big South contest at Worthington Stadium.
With the win, Liberty extends its win streak to a season-high five games. The Flames move to 13-6 in Big South action and 27-19 overall. UNC Asheville falls to 7-12 in conference play and 15-26 overall.
Trailing 2-0 and allowed only three hits by Bulldog right-hander Ryan Dull, Liberty reversed its fortunes on the night in the ninth. Center fielder Ian Parmley led off the inning by beating out a grounder deep in the hole between shortstop and third base for a hit. After Parmley advanced to third base on an errant throw by Dull on a pickoff attempt, right fielder Michael Robertson laced a liner into the left field corner for a double, plating Parmley. Williams followed by ripping his sixth home run of the season over the left center field wall, giving the Flames a 3-2 victory.
The Williams round tripper was his second walk-off home run in seven days. Last Friday night at Worthington Stadium, the shortstop ripped the first pitch he saw leading off the 12th inning into the left field bullpen for a 3-2 win over Le Moyne.
Before the bottom of the ninth, visiting UNC Asheville scored the game's only runs in the third inning. With one out, shortstop Catlin Carter singled and moved to second on a bunt single by first baseman Jordan Lurie. Center fielder Danny Baatz produced the first run of the contest with a double to the right-field gap for a 1-0 Bulldog advantage. Designated hitter followed with the fourth consecutive Asheville hit, a single, driving in Lurie for a 2-0 lead.
Liberty stranded runners at third in both the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Williams, who had reached on a fielder's choice, was left at third and in the sixth inning, second baseman Zach Haley was held at third after opening the frame with a single.
In the seventh inning, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with two outs. However, Liberty reliever Garrett Baker struck out the next batter to end the scoring threat.
Liberty starter John Niggli did not figure in the decision. The right-hander gave up two runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two batters. Baker moves to 6-3 on the season, pitching 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He struck out two batters and walked one.
Dull falls to 2-6 on the year. He allowed three runs on six hits, striking out 10 and not walking a batter in eight-plus innings.
Parmley had two of Liberty's hits in the contest, while Lurie went 4-for-5 for the Bulldogs.
UNC Asheville and Liberty will meet again in a Big South doubleheader on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. Between games of the twinbill, the Jeff Taylor Memorial Scholarship will be presented. The scholarship honors the late Liberty professor and former UNC Asheville athletic trainer.