The Liberty Flames tried to rally in the ninth inning, but came up short as the No. 2 seed Arkansas Razorbacks edged the Flames, 3-2, Friday evening in Game 2 of the 2014 NCAA Charlottesville, Va. Regional at Davenport Field.
Trailing in the ninth, Liberty center fielder Ashton Perritt was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After advancing to third base on a sacrifice bunt and a ground out, Arkansas reliever Jacob Stone was able to retire the next batter to close out the contest.
Liberty falls to 41-17 on the season and will face No. 4 seed Bucknell tomorrow in an elimination game at 2 p.m. on ESPNU. Arkansas moves to 39-23 on the year and advances to play No. 1 seed and regional host Virginia tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Liberty, the visitor on the scoreboard, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Shortstop Dalton Britt singled to lead off the inning. Catcher Danny Grauer was then hit by a pitch and third baseman Jake Kimble walked to load the bases. Two batters later, Perritt was hit by a pitch to plate the first run of contest. However, Arkansas starter Chris Oliver retired the next two Flames to end the threat without further damage.
The Flames' advantage did not last long, as Arkansas answered with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the inning. Second baseman Brian Anderson connected for his seventh home run of the year, lifting the second pitch of the frame over the right-field wall to tie the game at 1-1.
The Razorbacks plated two runs in the fourth. Left fielder Joe Serrano reached on an infield single and moved to third base on a hit-and-run single by center fielder Andrew Benintendi to open the bottom of the inning. With runners on the corners, Anderson singled through the left side of the infield to give Arkansas a 2-1 edge. After one-out wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, right fielder Tyler Spoon walked to load the bases. Third baseman Bobby Wernes followed with a RBI ground out, pushing the Razorbacks advantage to two, 3-1.
Liberty countered with a run in the top of the fifth. First baseman Alex Close drew a leadoff walk to open the inning and moved to third on a double into the left field corner by designated hitter Andrew Yacyk. Britt followed with a sacrifice fly to score Close to move the Flames within one at 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, Arkansas moved runners into scoring position with one out, only to come away empty. A walk to Anderson and a single by first baseman Eric Fisher opened the frame. Both runners then advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Spoon. However, Liberty starting pitcher Trey Lambert held the runners in position by retiring the next two Razorbacks to prevent Arkansas from extending its advantage.
The Razorbacks had a chance to stretch their lead in the bottom of the eighth. After singling to lead off the frame, center fielder Andrew Benintendi moved to third with two outs. But, Liberty reliever Matt Marsh held the runner at third by striking out the next batter.
Lambert falls to 11-3 on the season. The senior right-hander gave up three runs on six hits over the first 6 1/3 innings of work. He struck out five and walked three. Marsh allowed one hit over the final 1 1/3 innings
Oliver moves to 9-4 on the year. The Razorbacks' right-hander allowed two runs on four hits. The first of three pitchers for Arkansas in the game, he struck out four batters and walked one. Stone recorded his fourth save of the year for the Razorbacks.
Liberty had five hits in the contest. Britt had two hits and a RBI, scoring a run. Arkansas collected seven hits. Benintendi and Anderson each had two hits for the Razorbacks.