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Liberty Defeats VCU, 8-7, in 10 Innings

May 17, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Shortstop Matt Williams is greeted by teammates after tying Tuesday's game with a home run in the ninth inning.

Shortstop Matt Williams tied the game with his second home run in the ninth inning and first baseman Austin Taylor singled home the game-winning run in the 10th inning, as the Liberty Flames defeated the VCU Rams, 8-7, in a non-conference contest, Tuesday at Worthington Stadium.

After Williams tied the game with a solo home run in the ninth inning, Liberty pushed a run across in the 10th for the win.  Left fielder Ryan Cordell led off the bottom of the inning with a single and advanced to second on a single by catcher Casey Rasmus. Taylor followed with a single up through the middle to plate Cordell for the 8-7 victory.

With the win, Liberty moves to 32-20 on the year. The Flames have won 10 out of their last 11 games. The Rams fall to 21-30 on the season.

In addition, it is the second year in a row that Liberty has defeated VCU at Worthington Stadium on a walk-off base hit.  Last season, third baseman Tyler Bream hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning to give the Flames a 7-6 win over the Rams on May 18, 2010.

After a 44-minute delay due to a thunderstorm, visiting VCU opened the game by striking for three runs in its first at bat. Center fielder Bill Cullen and second baseman Paul Nice led off the top of the first inning with singles.  After third baseman Joey Cujas was hit by a pitch to load the bases, right-fielder Michael Cheatham became the fourth straight Ram to reach base, plating the game's first two runs with a single to left field. Two batters later, a ground out by first baseman Taylor Perkins brought home Cujas for a 3-0 Ram lead.

VCU extended its advantage with three more runs in the second.  Designated hitter Chris Ayers drew a leadoff walk, and scored two batters later on a triple to the warning track in center field by Cullen. Nice followed with a RBI single to put the Rams up, 5-0. Two batters later, right fielder Michael Cheatham tripled to chase home Nice, giving VCU a 6-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the inning, Liberty got on the scoreboard. With two outs, Rasmus lined a double off the top of the right field wall and plated the first Flames run on a single by Taylor. Second baseman Zack Haley and Ian Parmley followed with back-to-back singles to score Taylor, making it, 6-2.

Liberty cut into the VCU lead with two more runs in the third.  Williams opened the inning with his eighth home run of the season, a blast over the left field wall to trim the Flames' deficit to 6-3. Designated hitter Justin Sizemore followed with a line drive which split the left-center field gap for a double. After he moved to third on a ground out by Bream, Sizemore scored on a ground out by Cordell to make it, 6-4.

The Rams extended their lead with a run in the fifth.  Cujas tripled to center field to begin the frame and scored the final VCU run of the game on a single by the next batter, Cheatham.

In the seventh, Liberty closed its deficit to one.  Parmley and right fielder Michael Robertson both walked, leading off the home half of the inning. Two batters later, pinch hitter Justin Richardson singled through the right side of the infield to cash in Parmley, cutting the Ram edge to 7-5. Bream followed by lifting a sacrifice fly to plate Robertson, trimming the Flames' deficit to 7-6.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Williams lifted his second home run of the contest into the Liberty bullpen beyond the left field wall tying at 7-7, sending the contest to extra innings.  It was the ninth home run of the season for the Flames shortstop and the first multiple home run of his career.

Reliever Dane Beakler, the fifth pitcher for Liberty in contest, moves to 3-0 on the year. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two batters. He combined with Mark Swanson, who threw two scoreless innings, and Daniel Brown, who pitched a scoreless eighth, to shut down the Rams over the game's final five innings.

VCU reliever Jonathan Watson falls to 4-5 on the season.  The right-hander, the last of four Rams to pitch in the game, gave up two runs on six hits over three-plus innings.

Liberty totaled 14 hits in the contest, with each member of its starting line-up reaching base by either hit or walk. Five Flames had two hits in the game – Cordell, Parmley, Rasmus, Williams and Taylor.  Taylor and Williams each drove in two runs.

VCU had 11 hits, but managed only three over the last five innings.  Cheatham led all hitters in the game with four hits and four RBIs.

Liberty overcame a six-run deficit to win for the first time since April 17, 2010, when Flames defeated No. 26-ranked VMI, 9-6.  Beakler was also the winner that afternoon at Worthington Stadium.

Liberty will host the Radford Highlanders in the final three-game series of the 2011 regular season, starting Thursday.  The Big South contest is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.