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Liberty Rally Falls Short in 12-10 Loss to Marshall
After Marshall took the lead with four runs in the eighth, a Liberty rally fell short, as the Thundering Herd defeated the Flames, 12-10, Sunday afternoon in a nonconference contest at Linda K. Epling Field.
Liberty center fielder Andy Smith went 3-for-4 with a home run and a walk. Smith, who has reached base safely in every game this season, drove in two runs, scored a run and stole a base in the contest.
Liberty drops to 25-6 on the year. The Flames took two of the three games in the weekend series. The setback was the first for the Flames away from Lynchburg this season. Prior to Sunday, Liberty had won all 11 of its games not played at Worthington Stadium this year. In addition, the contest was the first this season in which the Flames failed to win after scoring first in the game. Liberty entered the game with a 21-0 mark when scoring first.
Marshall moves to 11-16 on the year. The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Herd.
Like the first two games of the series, Liberty jumped on the scoreboard first. With one out in the top of the contest's opening inning, Smith belted his team-leading fifth home run over the right field wall to give the Flames a 1-0 edge.
In the third, head coach Jim Toman's team extended its advantage with two runs. Third baseman Dalton Sype walked to open the Liberty half of the inning and moved to third base on a bunt single by shortstop Zach Haley and an error by Thundering Herd second baseman Sergio Leon. When Marshall catcher Thor Meeks made an errant throw to second base on a stolen base by Haley, Sype scored the first run of the frame. Left fielder Ian Parmley followed with a ground out to second to score Haley, upping Liberty's lead to 3-0.
The Flames added two more runs in the top of the fifth. Catcher Trey Wimmer led off the inning with a single and moved to second base on a two-out walk to Parmley. Smith followed with a single to plate Wimmer for a 4-0 advantage. Parmley then scored on a double steal with Smith to build a 5-0 advantage.
After being held off the scoreboard through the first four innings by Liberty starting pitcher Jacob Kemmerer, Marshall pushed two across in the bottom of the fifth. Left fielder Eric Escobedo singled with one out. After Meeks drew a two-out walk, second baseman Serio Leon plated Escobedo with a single for the Herd's first run of the contest. Shortstop Andrew Dundon followed with a single to center field, and when Smith had trouble fielding the ball, Meeks scored, cutting the Flames' advantage to 5-2.
Liberty responded in the top of the sixth with three runs. Pinch hitter Tyler Cox singled and first baseman Danny Grauer ripped a double off the top of the left center field wall to begin the inning. Right fielder Ryan Cordell followed with a double into the same gap, cashing in both runners for a 7-2 lead. Later in the frame, Sype singled and scored on a single by Parmley for an 8-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Marshall countered with five runs against three Liberty relief pitchers to close within a run of the Flames on the scoreboard. After the first three hitters of the innings walked, Escobedo beat out an infield single and a fielder's choice ground out plated the first two runs of the uprising. Meeks followed with a two-run double, trimming Liberty's lead to 8-6. The next batter, Leon, then provided a RBI single and shortstop Andrew Dundon lifted a sacrifice fly, to make it, 8-7.
Marshall tied the game in the seventh. First baseman Nathan Gomez opened the inning with a double and moved to third base on a grounder. He then scored on a wild pitch by Flames reliever Patrick Bankemper, knotting the game at 8-8.
The Herd took the lead in the contest by sending 10 men to the plate in the eighth, scoring four runs on six hits in the inning. Meeks led off the eighth with his second home run of the year to put the Thundering Herd in front for the first time in the contest at 9-8. Dundon followed with a single and scored on a triple by center fielder Isaac Ballou for a 10-8 edge. The next batter, third baseman Grey Stafford, singled to plate Ballou and later in the inning, Escobedo had a RBI single to give Marshall a 12-8 lead.
A Liberty rally in the ninth fell short. The first three Flames to bat in the inning reached to load the bases. Catcher's inference with Aanderud at the plate, forced in the first run of the inning, and Liberty trimmed the Herd advantage to 12-10 on a wild pitch with two outs by reliever Jesse Fernandez. However, with runners on second and third base, the Marshall pitcher was able to retire the next Flame to seal the win for the Thundering Herd.
Bankemper falls to 2-1 on the season. The Liberty reliever gave up two runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings. The fourth of seven Flames to pitch in the contest, the right-hander struck out three and did not walk a batter.
Lance Elder, the third Marshall pitcher in the contest, picks up the win, evening his record at 1-1 on the year. He pitched two innings of scoreless relief, striking out two batters and walking one.
Liberty collected 13 hits in the game, while Marshall had 14 hits. Escobedo had three hits for the Thundering Herd.
The Flames next travel to Richmond, Va., to square off with the VCU Rams, Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.