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Sype's Triple Keys Ninth-Inning Comeback
A bases-clearing triple by third baseman Dalton Sype keyed a seven-run ninth-inning rally, pushing the Liberty Flames past The Citadel Bulldogs, 11-9, Sunday afternoon in the final game of The Citadel Challenge at Riley Park.
Trailing 9-4, Liberty sent 11 men to the plate in the ninth inning. Shortstop Zack Haley began the rally with double and scored two batters later on a single by center fielder Andy Smith. After the next two batters were each hit by a pitch to load the bases, second baseman Bryan Aanderud moved the Flames within three runs with a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Alex Close singled to score a run and keep Liberty alive.
After a Bulldog pitching change, Sype ripped a liner down the left field for a triple, emptying the bases and giving the Flames a 10-9 lead. Close, who was on first base, beat the throw to home plate to score the go-ahead run. Haley followed with a run-scoring single to make it, 11-9, Liberty.
Danny Grauer shut down The Citadel in the bottom of the ninth, securing the comeback win for the Flames.
Liberty moves to 4-0 on the season. The Citadel drops to 1-2.
The Flames jumped onto the Riley Park scoreboard with a run in its opening at bat. Liberty has scored at least one run in the first inning of each of its first four games this season.
The Flames opened the contest by loading the bases, as starting pitcher Ian Parmley led off with a single and Smith and right fielder Michael Robertson both were hit by a pitch. Catcher Tyler Cox then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Parmley with the contest's first run and give Liberty a 1-0 lead.
The Citadel tied the game in the bottom of the second inning. Left fielder Justin Mackert opened the frame by lining his first home run of the season over the left field wall, knotting the score at 1-1.
Liberty went back in front during the fourth inning. After Aanderud led off the frame by lining a double down the left field line, left fielder Ryan Cordell singled back through the middle to bring home the Flames' second baseman for a 2-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Bulldogs scored six runs to take a 7-2 lead. With one out, The Citadel used five consecutive singles to plate the first three runs of the frame. Second baseman Mason Davis drove in the first run of the uprising with a single to tie the game for the second time and catcher Joe Jackson followed with a two-run single to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 advantage. Two batters later, Mackert dropped a two-out RBI single into center field for the fourth run of the frame. Right fielder capped the outburst with a two-run single, stretching the home team's lead to 7-2.
Liberty cut into The Citadel bulge during a drawn out the top of the sixth inning due to a rain delay. With one out, Cordell walked. Trey Wimmer followed with a blast over the left field wall, his first home run of the year, to trim the Bulldog lead to 7-4. Moments later, the skies opened and a 50 minute rain delay followed.
The Citadel extended its advantage in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out and runners at second and third base, pinch hitter Hughston Armstrong dropped a run-scoring single into center field to make it, 8-4. Shortstop Bailey Rush followed with a RBI sacrifice fly for a 9-4 Bulldog edge.
Brooks Roy, the sixth of seven Liberty pitchers in the game, pitched a scoreless eighth inning to pick up the win to move to 1-0. Grauer recorded his first save of the year.
Bulldog T.J. Clarkson drops to 0-1. The third of four pitchers for The Citadel gave up six runs on four hits over 2 1/3 innings.
Liberty had 14 hits in the contest. Parmley, Robertson, Wimmer and Sype each had two hits for the Flames. The Citadel had 13 hits on the afternoon. Mackert led all players in the game with three hits.
Liberty hosts the Radford Highlanders in a nonconference game in the home opener at Worthington Stadium, Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.