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Flames Fall to Panthers in Series' Rubber Match, 8-4

March 25, 2007  High Point, N.C.  RSS
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Tim Nanry hit his fifth home run Sunday at High Point.

Tim Nanry hit his fifth home run Sunday at High Point.

The High Point Panthers plated four runs in the fifth to erase a 3-1 Liberty advantage, downing the Flames, 8-4, in the final contest of a three-game Big South series between the two teams, Sunday afternoon at Willard Stadium.

With the win, the Panthers take the series, 2 games to 1, to post a 2-1 Big South mark and a 13-14 overall record. Liberty drops to 3-3 in the conference and 16-10 overall.

After a scoreless first two innings, Tommy Bussey (So., 2B, Boynton Beach, Fla.) staked the Flames to a 1-0 advantage. The Liberty second baseman lined a drive off the left field foul pole for his first home run of the season to give Liberty its initial run of the afternoon.

High Point knotted it up at 1-1 in the fourth. With one out, Bill Manion was hit by a pitch and advanced to second base on a single by Randy Schwartz. After the next batter flied out, Eric Marion singled to score Manion.

Liberty plated two more runs in the top of the fifth. Aaron Phillips (Jr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kenneth Negron (So., LF, Kingwood, Texas). Aaron Grijalva (R-Jr., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) then lined the first pitch he saw past the bag at third for a double, scoring Phillips. P.K. Keller (Jr., RF, Clearwater, Fla.) followed with a sharply hit ground ball which got past the shortstop for an error, allowing Grijalva to come home for a short-lived 3-1 Flames' advantage.

The Panthers came back in the bottom of the frame with four runs on five hits as High Point batted around in the inning. Alfie Wheeler doubled to begin the outburst and moved to third on a single by Robby Kuzdale. Jeff Cowan followed with a single to left to plate Wheeler. Billy Alvino continued the uprising with a single which brought home Kuzdale to tie the game, and High Point took a 4-3 lead on a single by the next batter, Manion, the fifth-consecutive hit in the inning. Alvino capped off the five-run uprising by scoring on a sacrifice fly by J. Williams to make it, 5-3, Panthers. 

High Point extended its lead to 8-3 in the sixth. Pablo Rosario singled into the hole on the left side of the infield to lead off the frame. Rosario then moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a sacrifice bunt, before scoring on a single by Kuzdale. After a ground out, Alvino doubled home Kuzdale and later came home on a single by Manion.

Liberty added a run in the eighth inning for the final score of 8-4. Tim Nanry (Sr., DH, Rochester, N.Y.) hit a towering home run off the scoreboard in left field, a solo blast. It was the designated hitter's fifth of the year.

Flame starter Tyler Light (So., RHP, San Bernardino, Calif.) picked up his first loss of the season to drop to 3-1. The right-hander gave up five runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking one in 4 1/3 innings. Ryan Page (Jr., LHP, Cranberry Twp., Pa.) came on in the fifth inning and allowed three runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief work. Tim John (Sr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) pitched a scoreless eighth. Chad Jennings, the second of three High Point hurlers on the day, improved to 2-1. He allowed no runs in 2 1/3 innings.

For the second-straight game, no Liberty hitter had more than one hit in the game, while eight of the nine High Point hitters had a hit in the game, with the top four batters in its line-up each contributing two hits.

Liberty remains on the road during the midweek as the Flames travel to Fairfax, Va., for a Wednesday afternoon contest at George Mason. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m.