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Linza Records 10th Win in 2-1 Victory Over Radford
Liberty senior Keegan Linza became only the fourth pitcher in program history to win 10 games in a season, as the Flames downed the Radford Highlanders, 2-1, Saturday on Senior Day at Worthington Stadium.
With the win, Liberty closes its regular season with an 18-9 record in Big South play and 33-22 overall. The Flames finish in second place in the regular season conference standings and will enter this week's Big South Baseball Championship as the No. 2 seed. Radford falls to 14-13 in the Big South action and finishes the regular season with a 30-23 overall.
Pitching for the last time at Worthington Stadium, Linza gave up one run on six hits over six-plus innings to run his record to 10-3. He struck out five and walked two batters. With 10 wins, the right-hander matches former Liberty teammate Shawn Teufel and program standout Lee Guetterman for second on the school's all-time single-season victory list. Teufel recorded 10 wins in 2010 and Guetterman reached 10 wins in each of the 1981 and 1982 seasons. Jason Jones holds the school's single-season record with 11.
After allowing a leadoff single in the second inning, Linza retired nine-straight Highlanders until a one-out hit in the fifth inning. The senior was also able to keep Radford from tying the contest in the fifth and the sixth innings. In the fifth, he stranded runner at third base and in the sixth, he pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam.
The only runs of the contest came in the first inning. Radford left fielder Matt Hillsinger led off the game with his sixth home run of the season over the right field wall for a 1-0 advantage.
Liberty answered in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder Ian Parmley opened the home half of the frame by lining a triple off the bottom of the right-center field wall. Right fielder Michael Robertson followed with a single, quickly knotting the game at 1-1. Later in the inning, Robertson stole second base and scored on a two-out single by third baseman Tyler Bream for a 2-1 lead, the Flames never relinquished.
In the seventh inning, Radford mounted a threat, only to be turned away for the third consecutive frame. Right fielder Blake Sipe reached on an error by Liberty shortstop Matt Williams to lead off the top of the seventh. Two batters later, shortstop Brett Mollenhauer doubled off the glove of Flames first baseman Austin Taylor to put two runners in scoring position with one away.
However, Liberty reliever Garrett Baker came back to get second baseman Alex Guerra to fly out to short right field and after loading the bases with an intentional walk, he induced to pinch hitter Jake Taylor to bounce into a fielder's choice to end the Highlander threat.
Baker earned his third save of the year, with three scoreless innings of relief. He struck out two batters and walked one.
Radford starter Bobby Boiling drops to 6-5 on the season. The first of four Highlander pitchers in the contest, he allowed two runs on five hits, striking out two and walking two.
Liberty totaled six hits in the game. Radford had eight hits. Highlander third baseman Matt Mack had two hits, the only player in the contest with more than one.
Before the game, the nine seniors on the Liberty roster were recognized. Linza and Taylor were recognized along with Dane Beakler, Doug Bream, Bryan Cole, Steven Evans, Jeff Jefferson, J.J. McLeod and Mark Swanson.
Liberty heads to the 2011 Big South Baseball Championship at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va. The Flames will open play in the double-elimination tournament on Wednesday against the higher remaining seed from Tuesday's No.5-8 seed games. Game time has yet to be determined.