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Gardner-Webb Rally Halts Liberty Win Streak at Seven
The Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs plated two runs in the eighth and then held off Liberty for a 5-4 win, snapping the Flames' seven-game winning streak, Saturday afternoon at Worthington Stadium.
Liberty drops to 5-1 in Big South play and 23-4 overall. Entering Saturday's contest, the Flames had won seven straight contests, including sweeping a doubleheader yesterday from the Runnin' Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb improves to 1-2 in Big South action and 15-10 overall.
The visiting Bulldogs took a 1-0 edge in the second inning. With one out, left fielder Scott Coleman doubled and two batters later, third baseman Brad Collins matched his two-base hit with two outs to give Gardner-Webb the advantage.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs pushed across a run to extend their advantage. Center fielder Benji Jackson led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a base hit by catcher John Harris. First baseman Dusty Quattlebaum followed with a run-scoring single, giving Gardner-Webb a 2-0 lead.
The visitors upped their advantage during their next at bat. Shortstop Ryan Hodge singled and advanced to second on a bunt to begin the top of the sixth inning. Second baseman Scott Johnson then plated Hodge for a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Liberty scored four runs to take a 4-3 lead. Left fielder Ian Parmley and center fielder Andy Smith were each hit by pitch to open the frame. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud then reached on an infield singled to load the bases. Next batter, designated hitter Justin Sizemore, walked to force in the first run of the uprising and a fielder's choice by first baseman Alex Close, trimming the Gardner-Webb advantage to 3-2.
A wild pitch by Bulldog reliever Jeff Howell allowed Aanderud to score, tying the game, 3-3. Catcher Trey Wimmer followed with a squeeze bunt, plating Close to put the Flames in front, 4-3.
Gardner-Webb answered in the eighth. The first three Bulldogs to hit in the inning reached to load the bases. After a Liberty pitching change, Johnson pushed across a run on a fielder's choice to knot the game at 4-4. Jackson followed with a sacrifice to score a run for what proved to be the final score of 5-4.
Liberty threatened in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases against Gardner-Webb reliever Adam Izokovic with one out. However, the right-hander was able to retire the next two Flames to end the threat.
Reliever Carson Herndon falls to 2-1 on the season for Liberty. The freshman allowed three runs on six hits over 2 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked one batter.
Izokovic runs his record to 3-0 on the year. The reliever pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit. He struck out three batters and walked two.
Liberty managed four hits in the contest. Gardner-Webb collected 14 hits, with Coleman and Hodge having three hits each.
Liberty steps out of conference play on Tuesday. The Flames will close out a five-game homestand against the VCU Rams. First pitch at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.