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Liberty Ties Big South Shutout Record with 5-0 Win Over High Point
The Liberty Flames tied a Big South record with their 10th shutout of the season, blanking the High Point Panthers, 5-0, Friday night in the opening game of a three-game Big South Conference series at Worthington Stadium.
John Niggli and Patrick Bankemper combined to shutout visiting High Point. Starting his final home game, Niggli moves to 8-2 on the year, pitching seven innings. The senior right-hander scattered six hits, striking out three and walking one batter. Bankemper entered in the eighth inning with bases loaded and no outs and preserved the shutout. He gave up one hit in two innings of relief, striking out one and walking two batters. The two pitchers stranded Panther runners at third base on three different occasions during the contest.
With the blanking, Liberty ties the 2000 Winthrop Eagles for the most shutouts in a season by a Big South team. Liberty's 10 shutouts are the most in program history.
Third baseman Dalton Sype continued his hot hitting, collecting two hits to raise his batting average to .301. Sype, who has hit .370 during his last 20 games, belted his second home run of the season in the second inning.
Liberty moves to 11-8 in Big South action and 35-15 overall. High Point drops to 8-11 in conference play and 23-26 overall.
The host Flames took a 1-0 edge in the game's opening inning. Left fielder Ian Parmley opened the frame with a single to center field. After advancing to third base on a balk and ground out, Parmley scored Liberty's first run of the game on a ground out by second baseman Bryan Aanderud.
Sype upped the Flames' advantage in the second. With two outs, catcher Trey Wimmer singled to keep the inning alive. Sype followed by ripping a home run over the left field wall for a 3-0 lead.
Liberty added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings. In the fifth, Parmley was hit by a pitch with one out, and later scored on a ground out by Aanderud. In the seventh, designated hitter Tyler Cox plated a run with a RBI double.
High Point loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning and moved a runner to third base with one out in the ninth. However, Bankemper was able to keep any one from scoring to close out the 5-0 win.
Panther starter Ryan Retz falls to 6-3 on the year, dropping his first Big South contest of the year. The right-hander entered the game 4-0 in conference games. Retz gave up four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.
Besides Sype, Wimmer had two hits for the Flames, who collected nine in the contest. First baseman Devin Bujnovsky had two of High Point's seven hits in the game.
High Point and Liberty will meet again tomorrow at Worthington Stadium. Before the game, the seniors on the Liberty roster will be recognized. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.