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Liberty Drops 5-4 Decision to Radford
Despite a late-inning rally, the Liberty Flames fell to the Radford Highlanders, 5-4, Thursday night in a Big South contest at Worthington Stadium.
Liberty falls to 17-8 in Big South play and 32-21 overall. The setback halted a three-game winning streak for the Flames. Radford moves to 13-12 in the conference and 29-22 overall. The Highlanders have won three straight contests.
Radford struck for a run in its opening at bat. Left fielder Matt Hillsinger led off the game with a single and advanced to third base on a single by shortstop Brett Mollenhauer. The third hitter of the inning, second baseman Alex Guerra, lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, plating Hillsinger for a 1-0 lead.
The Highlanders extended their advantage in the top of the fourth. First baseman Ryan Burgess and catcher Carl Travers opened the inning with back-to-back singles. After both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Jake Taylor, right fielder Blake Sipe singled to score Burgess for a 2-0 lead. Center fielder Zach Costello followed with a squeeze bunt to bring home Travers, giving Radford a 3-0 edge.
Liberty got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning. With one out, shortstop Matt Williams singled sharply to center field and stole second base. After moving to third base on a fielder's choice grounder by third baseman Tyler Bream, Williams plated the first Flames run of the contest on a squeeze bunt by catcher Casey Rasmus, trimming the Radford lead to 3-1.
The Highlanders upped their advantage in the fifth. After third base Matt Mack drew a one out walk, Burgess lined his second home run of the year over the right field wall to make it, 5-1.
Liberty rallied in the seventh. Left fielder Doug Bream and designated hitter Ryan Cordell opened the inning with singles. Three batters later, center fielder Ian Parmley split the left-center field gap with a line drive to the warning track for a bases-clearing, two-out triple, cutting the Radford lead to 5-3. Right fielder Michael Robertson followed with a single to close to within one run at 5-4.
However, it was as close as the Flames would get, as Highlanders relievers Jake Quigg and Abram Williams combined to hold Liberty scoreless over the final 2 1/3 innings to seal the victory.
Liberty starter John Niggli drops to 4-3 on the year. The right-hander gave up five runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out one and walked one batter. Relievers Mark Swanson and Garrett Baker followed with 3 1/3 innings and 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, respectively.
Radford starter Eddie Butler moves to 8-2 on the season. He gave up four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out five and did not walk a batter. Williams earns his 15th save of the year, retiring the side in order in the ninth inning.
Liberty had eight hits in the contest. Robertson had two hits for the Flames. Radford totaled 12 hits in the game. Burgess and Sipe each had three hits for the Highlanders.
Radford and Liberty meet again tomorrow in the middle game of their three-game Big South series at Worthington Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.