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Bream, Linza Pace Liberty to Win Over Bucs
Doug Bream went 4-for-4, with a home run and three RBIs, backing a complete-game pitching performance by Keegan Linza to lead the No. 2 seed Liberty Flames past the No. 3 seed Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 6-1, in game eight of the 2011 Big South Champion, Thursday evening at Gray-Minor Stadium.
Liberty moves to 35-22 on the season and advances to play No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina in game 10 of the Big South Championship tomorrow at 3 p.m. The victor of the contest will move into Saturday's championship game at Noon.
Charleston Southern drops to 29-29 on the year and will face the No. 5 seed Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs tomorrow at 11 p.m. in an elimination game. Tonight's contest was the meeting between the two teams in the Big South Championship since 2002.
Linza moves to 11-3 on the season, tying former Flames right-hander Jason Jones for the Liberty single-season win record. Jones won 11 games in 2004. Linza went the full nine innings for a Big South-leading fifth time this season, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
After allowing a single to the leadoff hitter in the third inning, the senior retired 15 straight Buccaneer batters until a double by left fielder Matt Still to open the eighth inning. In addition, Linza moves into fifth on the school's single-season inning pitched list with 108 innings of work.
Liberty, the home team on the scoreboard, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Center fielder Ian Parmley singled to center field to open the frame. After the next two Flames were retired, left fielder Doug Bream blasted his second home run of the year over the roof of the batting cage beyond the right field wall, giving Liberty the lead.
The Flames doubled their advantage during the second. Catcher Casey Rasmus led off the inning by ripping a liner to the warning track in center field for a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by first baseman Austin Taylor. Second baseman Zack Haley followed with a squeeze bunt to plate Rasmus with the first run of the frame. The next batter, Parmley, walked and after stealing second, scored on a two-out single by right fielder Michael Robertson.
In the seventh, Liberty put the contest out of reach. Haley was hit by a pitch to open the inning and advanced to second base on a balk. After moving to third base on a single by Parmley, Haley scored, two batters later, on a single by shortstop Matt Williams. Bream followed with a run-scoring single to make it, 6-0 Flames.
Charleston Southern broke through against Linza in the eighth. After Still doubled to led off the inning, catcher Denis Buckley singled to drive in the lone run of the evening for the Bucs.
Charleston Southern starter Jesse Caddenhead drops to 4-6 on the year. He allowed four runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five batters and walking two.
Liberty totaled 11 hits in the game. Besides Bream with four hits, Parmley and Rasmus each had two hits for the Flames. Hunt had two of Charleston Southern's six hits.