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Close, Haley Have Big Nights in 13-8 Win at Radford
Alex Close blasted two home runs and Zack Haley had three hits, including a home run, helping the Liberty Flames belt their way past the Radford Highlanders, 13-8, in a Big South game at RU Baseball Stadium, Friday.
Close drove in four runs with his 11th and 12th round trippers of the year. With 12 home runs, he moves into ninth place on Liberty's all-time single-season home run list. In addition, Close's home run total ties Pat Sipe's 1983 season total for the most by a freshman in program history.
Haley posted his third three-hit game of the year. The shortstop had his second home run of the year and a RBI triple among his three hits. He scored three times and drove in two runs.
Liberty plated runs in every inning of the game and collected 16 hits in the contest. It was the fourth time this season, the Flames have recorded 15 or more hits in a game. Besides Haley, left fielder Ian Parmley had three hits and scored three times. Center fielder Andy Smith also had three hits in the contest for the Flames.
Liberty moves to 13-10 in Big South action and 37-18 overall. The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Flames. Radford drops to 12-11 in conference play and 28-25-1 overall.
The Flames struck for two runs in the game's opening inning, only to see the host Highlanders answer with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning. Parmley led off the contest with a single back through the middle of the diamond and with one out, moved to second on a single by designated hitter Michael Robertson. After Close walked, second baseman Bryan Aanderud dumped a single into right field, plating Parmley and Robertson for an early 2-0 lead.
Radford benefitted from two Liberty errors in the bottom of frame. Second baseman Josh Gardiner reached on an error by Aanderud to open the Highlander half of the first. Left fielder Matt Mollenhauer followed with a single, moving Gardiner to second. After a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners into scoring position at second and third base, designated hitter Matt Hillsinger grounded out, plating Gardiner with the first Highlander run of the game. A two-out fielding error by Haley allowed Mollenhauer to score, tying the game at 2-2.
Both teams tallied runs in the second. With one out in the top of the inning, Haley singled, stole second base and wound up on third base, when catcher Daniel Wright's throw sailed into center field. Parmley followed with a run-scoring single, putting Liberty back in front at 3-2. The next batter, Smith, then ripped a single through the right side of the infield, advancing Parmley to third base. Robertson lifted a sacrifice fly to make it, 4-2 Liberty.
In the bottom of the inning, Wright singled with one out and later came around to score on a single by Mollenhauer, trimming the Flames' edge to 4-3.
For the third consecutive frame, Liberty collected two runs in the third. Close began the inning by blasting his 11th home run of the season to up the Flames' advantage to 5-3. Two batters later, right fielder Ryan Cordell singled. After Cordell advanced to second on a ground out, third baseman Dalton Sype singled to cash him in for a 6-3 lead.
The Flames pushed across single runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Haley reached on an error by Highlander third baseman Matt Mack and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Parmley. Smith followed with a run-scoring single, upping the Liberty lead to 7-3. In the fifth, Cordell walked and later scored on a two-out error by Radford shortstop Jeff Kemp, giving the Flames a five-run bulge on the scoreboard at 8-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, the host Highlanders cut into the Liberty lead. With two men aboard, a two-out single by Mack got past Parmley in left field, allowing both runners to score. Mack then scored, when center fielder Smith's throw hit him at third base and bounded away, slicing the Flames' edge to 8-6.
Liberty responded by plating a run in the sixth. Parmley and Smith began the inning with back-to-back singles. After moving into scoring position on a bunt by Robertson, Close brought home Parmley with a grounder for 9-6 lead for the visitors.
After working out of a scoring threat by the Highlanders in the bottom of the sixth, a two-out RBI triple by Haley extended the Flames' advantage to 10-6 in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the inning, the first three Radford batters reached to load the bases with no one. Two batters later, Kemp lined a single into right field for the first Highlander run of the inning. Wright followed with a sacrifice fly, whittling the Flames' cushion to two runs at 10-8.
Close got the two runs right back in the top of the eighth. With Smith aboard, the first baseman launched his second round tripper of the contest, stretching Liberty's cushion back to four runs, 12-8.
Haley connected for a solo home run and his third hit of the game in the top of the ninth for what proved to be the final score of 13-8.
Jared Lyons, the third Liberty pitcher in the contest, moves to 3-4 on the year. The left-hander gave up two runs on three hits over three innings, the sixth through eighth frames. He struck out four batters and walked one.
Radford starter Mark Peterson drops to 4-3 on the year. He allowed six runs on nine hits over three innings. He walked one batter. The Highlanders used four pitchers in the game.
Radford had eight hits in the contest.
The Flames and Radford will meet again tomorrow at the RU Baseball Stadium. The game will be the final game of the 2012 regular season for both teams. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.