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Liberty Falls in Pitchers' Duel, 3-1
The visiting Radford Highlanders broke up a scoreless pitcher's duel with two runs in the eighth inning and went on to a 3-1 win over the Liberty Flames, Friday night at Worthington Stadium.
Liberty moves to 17-9 Big South and 32-22 overall. Radford moves to 14-12 in conference and 30-22 overall. With the win, the Highlanders match the 1995 Radford squad for the school's single-season wins mark.
After both teams were held off the scoreboard through seven innings, Radford pushed across two runs in the eighth to take an advantage. Shortstop Brett Mollenhauer led off the inning with a single and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Blake Sipe. After Mollenhauer advanced to third base on a wild pitch, the Highlanders plated the game's first run on a bunt base hit by center fielder Zach Costello.
When the throw to first base by Liberty second baseman Zack Haley was wide, left fielder Matt Hillsinger, who was intentionally walked, moved to third. Second baseman Alex Guerra followed with a squeeze bunt, scoring Hillsinger for a 2-0 lead.
Radford first baseman Ryan Burgess made it, 3-0, for the visitors in the top of the ninth. Burgess hit his third home run, and second in as many days, over the right field wall with two away to add an insurance run.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Liberty spoiled the shutout attempt. With one out, designated hitter Ryan Cordell singled and stole second base. After moving to third base on a ground out by catcher Casey Rasmus, first baseman Austin Taylor singled with two outs to score Cordell to ruin the shutout bid by the Highlanders and keep the inning alive. However, Radford reliever Abraham Williams retired the next Flames batter to close out the Highlander victory.
Both starters, Liberty's Steven Evans and Radford's Mark Peterson, did not figure in the decision. The two matched each other with six scoreless frames apiece.
Reliever Dane Beakler falls to 3-1 for the Flames. He allowed two runs on four hits over 1 1/3 innings. The second of four Liberty pitchers in the contest, he struck out one and walked one.
Jason Patten, the second Highlander to take the mound in the game, runs his record to 4-1 on the year with two innings of scoreless relief. Williams gave up one run on two hits, striking out one batter to record his 16th save of the year. The Radford redshirt junior ties former Liberty standout Josh Brey, who had 16 saves in 2000, for the single-season Big South record.
Each team had eight hits in the game. Left fielder Doug Bream and Taylor had two hits each for the Flames. Burgess and Mollenhauer had two hits apiece for the Highlanders.
Radford and Liberty will meet in the final regular-season game for both teams tomorrow afternoon. Before the game, the nine Flames playing in their last game at Worthington Stadium will be recognized. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.