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Robertson, Taylor Help Liberty Complete Sweep
Right fielder Michael Robertson went 5-for-5 with three doubles and first baseman Austin Taylor had three hits, including a home run, as the Liberty Flames defeated the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, 15-3, in game two of a doubleheader Saturday on Jeff Taylor Memorial Scholarship Day at Worthington Stadium. The victory completed a sweep of both the afternoon's Big South doubleheader and the three-game series.
Liberty moves to 15-6 in Big South action and 29-19 overall. The win runs longest winning streak of the season for the Flames to seven games. UNC Asheville drops to 7-14 in conference play and 15-28 overall.
Robertson had five hits in a contest for the first time in his career at Liberty. The right fielder scored three times and also drove in two runs. He becomes the second Flame this season to go 5-for-5 in a contest, joining fellow outfielder Doug Bream who was 5-for-5 on April 6 at Worthington Stadium in a game against James Madison.
Taylor plated three runs with his three hits and also scored three times in the game. His two-out solo home run in the fourth inning tied him with shortstop Matt Williams for the team lead with six.
Liberty struck for two runs in the bottom of the second to take a lead it never relinquished. Third baseman Tyler Bream and catcher Casey Rasmus led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Designated hitter Marcus Grimaldi followed with a run-scoring double for the first run of the game and a Flames lead. Rasmus then scored on a ground out by the next batter, Taylor, for a 2-0 edge.
The Flames added single runs in the third and fourth innings. In the third, Robertson doubled to open the frame and scored on a ground out by Williams. In the fourth, Taylor connected for a home run, giving Liberty a 4-0 advantage.
Asheville got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth. Right fielder Mike Vaughn was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and advanced to second base on a bunt by catcher Nick Collazo. Third baseman Cody Buch followed with a double to make it, 4-1 Liberty.
In the bottom of the inning, the Flames broke the game open, sending 10 men to the plate to score eight runs on five hits. For the second time in the game, Robertson opened an inning with double and quickly scored on a double by Williams. After left fielder Doug Bream singled and Tyler Bream was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Rasmus walked to force in a run, upping the Liberty lead to 6-1. Grimaldi followed with a sacrifice fly for the third run of the inning and the next batter, Taylor, ripped a RBI single for an 8-1 bulge.
Later in the inning, Robertson, batting for the second time in the stanza, singled with the bases loaded to drive in a run. When the hit got past Vaughn in right field, the other two runners came around to score. Robertson then plated the final run of the uprising on a passed ball, giving Liberty a commanding 12-1 lead.
In the seventh inning, each team posted two-run frames. The Bulldogs scored runs in the top of the inning on Buch's second double of the contest and RBI single by Jordan Lurie. The Flames plated runs on a RBI single by center fielder Ian Parmley and a run-producing double by Robertson.
Liberty added a run on a walk to pinch hitter Justin Richardson in the eighth inning with the bases loaded for the final score of 15-3.
Starter Keegan Linza matches his win total from a year ago by running his record to 8-3 on the season. The Liberty senior right-hander gave up one run on two hits over six innings. He struck out one and walked two batters.
Tommy Houmard, the first of seven Bulldog pitchers in the game, falls to 2-3 on the season. He allowed four runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked one.
Liberty totaled six hits in the contest. Robertson and Taylor were joined by Doug and Tyler Bream, who each had two hits, with multi-hit games for the Flames. Asheville managed five hits. Buch had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Between games of the doubleheader, the recipient of the Jeffrey Owen Taylor Memorial Scholarship was announced. The scholarship and the day honor the late Liberty University athletic training professor, athletic trainer and avid baseball fan, who died tragically in an accident in April 2009. This year's day enjoyed extra significances as Taylor was head athletic trainer at UNC Asheville for eight years.
Liberty has the next five day off for exams, before traveling to Boiling Springs, N.C., for a three-game Big South series against the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs. First pitch for the opening game of the series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night.