Michael Solbach picked up his first victory in Flames' home opener Friday.
Starter Michael Solbach pitched six strong innings, retiring the last 16 hitters he faced as the Liberty Flames downed the Albany Great Danes, 9-2, in the Flames' home opener at Worthington Stadium. With the win, Liberty improves to 4-3 on the year, while Albany drops to 0-3. The Flames have won their last four home openers. Solbach (R-Jr., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) clamped down on the Great Danes after a shaky Liberty start in the first inning. The right-hander did not allow an Albany batter to reach base after the opening frame, as he set down 16 straight batters, before coming out of the contest. He collected his first victory of the season, evening his mark at 1-1, by allowing two runs, both unearned, on one hit during his six innings of work on a chilly, windy day. He struck out six and walked one. The Great Danes took advantage of two Liberty miscues to open the contest with an early 2-0 edge. Lead-off hitter Al Barbarto started the game with a double down the right field line. After the first out of the frame, Barbarto moved to third on an error by the Flames' second baseman on a grounder by catcher Tom Hill and scored on a throwing error by the second baseman on the same play. Later in the frame, left fielder Thomas Zink walked with the bases loaded to force in the second run of inning. Liberty struck back in the third with four runs. Tommy Bussey (So., 2B, Boynton Beach, Fla.) singled to right to open the frame and advanced to third on a double to right field by Errol Hollinger (So., C, Upland, Calif.). The next batter, Kenneth Negron (So. LF, Kingwood, Tex.) plated Bussey with a bunt for the Flames' first run of the day. After Phil John (Sr., RF, Linwood, N.J.) walked and stole second, a RBI grounder by Garrett Young (Jr., CF, Fountain Valley, Calif.) pushed Hollinger across to knot the score at 2-2. Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) later singled to left to deliver John, and Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.) also scored as the ball got away from the left fielder. Up 4-2, the Flames came back in the fourth with five more runs to extend their advantage. David Giammaresi (R-Jr., 3B, Coral Springs, Fla.) walked to begin the inning and scored on a triple by Bussey. Two batters later, Bussey came in on a balk. John followed with a RBI single to plate Negron, who had earlier been hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Nanry hit a two-run single to score John and Young, who had reached on a dropped fly ball by the right fielder, to put Liberty up, 9-2. Andrew Wilson (So., RHP, Cary, N.C.) followed Solbach to the hill to begin the top of the seventh and allowed only two hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief. Chase Vaden (Fr., LHP, Lynch Station, Va.) faced two batters in recording the contest's last out. Casey Walsh took the loss in his first start of the season for Albany Bussey, Hollinger and John had two hits apiece on the afternoon for Liberty. The Flames and Great Danes will meet again tomorrow with an extra game being added due to forecasted ice storms on Sunday. Tomorrow's doubleheader is slated to begin at 11 a.m. with the second game immediately following.