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High Point Edges Liberty in Slugfest in Final Game at Worthington
The visiting High Point Panthers plated two runs in the ninth inning to defeat the Liberty Flames, 13-11, Sunday afternoon in the final baseball contest at Worthington Stadium.
Center fielder Andy Smith drove in a career-high five runs for the Flames. Smith had a three-run home run and a two-run triple in the game. First baseman Alex Close also hit his 10th home run of the season in the contest.
Liberty falls to 12-9 in Big South play and 36-16 overall. High Points snaps a nine-game losing streak, improving to 9-12 in conference action and 24-27 overall.
The contest was the last baseball game for the Liberty program in Worthington Stadium. The Flames finish the 2012 season with a 20-10 (.667) mark at the facility. All-time, Liberty posted a 561-256-6 (.685) record during its 34 years at Worthington Stadium. The Flames will move to a new facility next season.
Liberty and High Point each traded big innings during the opening frames of the contest. The Flames began the game by sending 12 batters to the plate, scoring eight runs on six hits, in the home half of the first inning. After left fielder Ian Parmley and Smith walked to open the frame, second baseman Bryan Aanderud singled to score Parmley with the game's first run. Designated hitter Tyler Cox followed with a two-run single for a quick 3-0 advantage. The next batter, Close, then belted a two-run home run over the center field wall for a 5-0 lead.
After right fielder Michael Robertson singled and advanced on a wild pitch by Panther pitcher Jaime Schultz, a double by catcher Trey Wimmer made it, 6-0. Third baseman Dalton Sype became the eighth consecutive batter of the inning to reach, when he walked. Two batters later, Smith tripled home both runners for an 8-0 advantage.
High Point countered with a seven-run inning in the second. The Panthers plated all seven runs with two outs. After the first two High Point batters were retired, the next three hitters reached to load the bases.
Shortstop Willie Medina was hit by a pitch and center fielder Dane McDermott walked to force in the first two runs of the uprising. After third baseman Ryne Rush singled to cut Liberty's advantage to 8-3, designated hitter Scott Glover lined a bases-clearing double into the right field corner to trim the Flames' advantage to 8-6. A fielding error by Liberty's Sype on a grounder by first baseman Ryan Retz allowed Glover to score, slicing the Flames' edge to 8-7.
In the third inning, Liberty extended its advantage. With two men aboard, Smith blasted his eighth home run of the season over the right field wall for an 11-7 lead.
High Point knotted the game with four runs in the sixth. Three consecutive run-scoring singles by Rush, Glover and Retz whittled the Liberty edge to 11-10. Left fielder Devin Bujnovsky followed with a sacrifice fly to knot the game at 11-11.
Neither team mounted any scoring threat the rest of the way until the top of the ninth, when the Panthers broke the deadlock with two runs. With two men aboard and one out, Medina singled back through the middle to plate the go-ahead run. A wild pitch by Liberty reliever Shawn Clowers allowed another run to score, stretching the High Point advantage to 13-11.
In the bottom of the inning, Liberty's Robertson opened the frame with a single. However, Panther reliever Jacob Newberry, who entered the game with two out in the first inning, did not allowed any further runners, closing out the Flames for the victory.
The fifth of seven Liberty pitchers in the contest, Jacob Kemmerer drops to 3-4 on the season. He gave up two runs on one hit, walking one batter, over 1 1/3 innings.
Newberry moves to 4-6 on the year. The Panther right-hander allowed three runs on five hits over 8 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two batters.
Each team collected 11 hits in the contest. Smith, Robertson and Sype had two hits apiece for the Flames. Glover, Medina, Rush and catcher Josh Spano each had two hits for the Panthers.
Liberty now travels to Blacksburg, Va., Tuesday for a nonconference game at Virginia Tech. First pitch at English Field is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.