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Liberty Scores Six Runs in Ninth to Down Radford
Trailing by a run, the Liberty Flames rallied for six runs in the top of the ninth inning for a 10-5 come-from-behind victory over the Radford Highlanders in a Big South Conference game to close the regular season at RU Baseball Stadium.
After reliever Jacob Kemmerer entered the game with two runners on and no outs and prevented host Radford from extending its 5-4 edge, Liberty erupted for six runs on six hits to take a 10-5 lead. The first three Flames to bat in the ninth, all reached base safely. Shortstop Zack Haley reached on a fielding error by Highlander shortstop Jeff Kemp and left fielder Ian Parmley and center fielder Andy Smith both reached on bunt singles, loading the bases. Right fielder Michael Robertson then scored Haley with a ground out, knotting the score, 5-5.
Two batters later, second baseman Bryan Aanderud ripped a two-out single to give the Flames a 6-5 advantage. After Smith scored on a wild pitch by Radford reliever Abrahm Williams, catcher Danny Grauer lined a single off Williams to drive in another run for an 8-5 lead. Third baseman Dalton Sype followed with a two-run double, upping Liberty's advantage to 10-5.
In the bottom of the inning, Kemmerer retired the side in order to close out the victory for the Flames.
With the win, Liberty finishes the regular season 14-10 in the Big South conference and 38-18 overall. The Flames won the last two games of the three-game series to take the series, two games to one. Radford drops to 12-12 in conference and 28-16-1 overall.
Liberty jumped onto the scoreboard in the second inning. After first baseman Alex Close was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, Aanderud hit a towering home run over the left field wall for a 2-0 edge.
The Flames extended their advantage in their next at bat. Haley was hit by a pitch to open the third inning and moved to third base on a hit-and-run single by Parmley. Three batters later, Close lined a single off the side of the mound to plate Haley for a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Radford got on the scoreboard. With two out, shortstop Jeff Kemp walked and moved to second on an infield single by designated hitter Matt Hillsinger.
Liberty added a single run in the fifth. Haley opened the inning with his Big South-leading 20th double of the year. After advancing to third on a deep fly out by Parmley, Haley scored on a ground out by right fielder Michael Robertson, giving the Flames a three-run bulge on the scoreboard at 4-1.
The Highlanders then erupted for four two-out runs in the bottom of the inning. After the first two batters of the frame were retired, Radford loaded the bases, as the next three batters reached on a single, a walk and a fielding error. Pinch hitter Patrick Marshall and second baseman Josh Gardiner then each drew walks to force in a run, cutting the Liberty lead to 4-3. Center fielder Zach Costello followed by lining a single past the bag at third base, scoring two runs and putting Radford in front, 5-4.
Each team threatened by moving a runner into scoring position at second base with one out in the seventh inning, only to have both scoring opportunities turned away by double plays.
Kemmerer evens his record at 4-4 with two innings of scoreless relief. The right-hander, the fifth Liberty pitcher in the contest, did not give up a hit, striking out three batters and walking none.
Williams falls to 2-4. Entering in the ninth inning, the sixth Radford pitcher of the contest gave up six runs on six hits. He struck out one and walked one batter.
Liberty collected 11 hits. Aanderud had two hits and drove in three runs in the game for the Flames. Teammate Parmley also had two hits and moved into sixth place on the Liberty career stolen base list by stealing a base for 55.
Radford had 10 hits. Third baseman Matt Mack lead all players in the contest with three hits.
Liberty left eight men on bases, while Radford stranded 13 runners.
The Flames now head to Coy O. Willard Stadium in High Point, N.C. for the Big South Baseball Championship. The tournament opens on Tuesday. Liberty's opponent and game time will be announced later this evening.