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Eckelbarger Shuts Down Siena for Game One Win
Pitcher Patrick Eckelbarger pitched his first complete game as a Flame, leading Liberty to a 1-0 victory over the Siena Saints in game one of a doubleheader at Worthington Stadium.
Eckelbarger scattered three hits in the seven inning contest to run his record to 2-0 on the year. He struck out a career-high six batters and walked two. The senior right-hander stranded Saints at third base in each of the third, fourth and seventh innings to post the third shutout by the Liberty pitching staff this season. He has not allowed a run in 12 innings of work in 2012.
The Flames move to 7-0 on the year, the second-longest unbeaten streak to open the year during head coach Jim Toman's tenure. Siena drops to 0-6.
Hits were at a premium during game one, as the two teams contended with both the wind and the cold. While the Saints managed three hits off Eckelbarger in the contest, Liberty collected five hits against Siena starter Ryan Poplawski.
Poplawski fell to 0-2 on the year, pitching all six innings for the Saints. He gave up the lone run of the game, striking out four batters and walking one.
After both teams went in order in both the first and the second, Liberty threatened in the bottom of the third inning. First baseman Justin Sizemore opened the frame with a double and moved to third base on a groundout by third baseman Dalton Sype. Sizemore then tried to score on a single to left field by shortstop Zack Haley, but was thrown out at home plate by Saint left fielder Kyle Baldani to keep the contest scoreless.
The Flames pushed across the only run of the contest in the fourth inning. Right fielder Michael Robertson led off the frame with a liner into the right field corner for a stand-up double.
Designated hitter Tyler Cox followed by splitting the right-center field gap with a double, cashing in Robertson for the final score of 1-0.
In the top of the seventh inning, Siena used a leadoff single by center fielder Mike Fish and a sacrifice to move a runner into scoring position at second base with one out. However, Eckelbarger closed the door for the shutout by getting the next batter to ground out and striking out the final batter for the victory.