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Liberty Falls to Radford, 4-0

May 17, 2012
|  Radford, Va.
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John Niggli

In a game which started after 10 p.m., the Radford Highlanders defeated the Liberty Flames, 4-0, in a Big South contest at RU Baseball Stadium, Thursday night.

Due to lightning and rainfall in the Radford area, the contest's start was delayed three hours and 32 minutes. Scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., the game's first pitch was not thrown until 10:02 p.m. and eventually, ended at 12:44 a.m. Friday morning.

Liberty falls to 12-10 in Big South play and 36-18 overall. Radford moves to 12-10 in conference and 28-24-1 overall. It was the second time this season, Liberty has been shut out.

When the contest finally got underway, Liberty starter John Niggli and Radford starter Eddie Butler made runs hard to come by through the first six innings.

The host Highlanders plated the game's first run in the bottom of the second inning.  First baseman Ryan Burgess opened the inning by lining a double into the right center field gap. After moving to third base on a single by catcher Carl Travers, Burgess gave Radford a 1-0 edge by scoring on right fielder Blake Sipe's ground out.

Niggli then settled in and did not allow another hit until the sixth inning. After the second inning, the right-hander retired seven straight batters until hitting Highlander second baseman Josh Gardiner with a pitch in the fifth.

Liberty mounted a scoring threat in the top of the fourth.  With one out, right fielder Michael Robertson singled to right field and later moved to third on a two-out single by second baseman Bryan Aanderud. But, Radford's Butler was able to get the next Flame to pop up on the infield to end the inning and keep Liberty off the scoreboard.

In the sixth, the Highlanders extended their advantage. Designated hitter Matt Hillsinger reached on a fielding error to begin the inning and moved to second on a single by third baseman Matt Mack.  After Niggli battled back to retire the next two batters, Travers lined a two-out double into the right-center field gap, scoring both runners for a 3-0 lead.

Liberty moved two runners into scoring position with one out in the top of the eighth, only to come away empty. Third baseman Dalton Sype led off the inning with an infield single against Radford reliever Jeff Maxwell and moved to third base on a double ripped down the right field line by left fielder Ian Parmley.  Right-hander Jeff Patten was then summoned from the Highlander bullpen and was able set down the next two Flames to end the inning and the scoring threat.

Radford added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. A single by left fielder Patrick Marshall brought home Marsh, who had opened the inning with a single, for what proved to be the final score of 4-0.

Niggli drops to 8-3 on the year.  The right-hander gave up three runs, one earned, on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.

Butler moves to 6-4 on the season.  He allowed two hits over six innings.  He struck out nine and walked two batters.

Patten records his sixth save of the year.  He pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, giving up two hits.  He struck out three and did not walk a batter.

Liberty managed six hits on the night. Radford collected 10 hits. Gardiner led all hitters in the contest with three.

The Flames and Highlanders will meet again Friday at RU Baseball Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.