The No. 12 Virginia Cavaliers rode an early advantage to a 10-7 win over the Liberty Flames, Wednesday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium. The contest was played before a stadium-record crowd of 2,841 fans.
Liberty first baseman Alex Close went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. It was the third three-hit game of the season for the senior first baseman, who now leads the Flames with 10 multi-hit games.
Flames center fielder Ashton Perritt added two hits, including his second home run of the season, drove in two runs and scored two runs in the contest.
Liberty falls to 14-10 overall on the year. Virginia moves to 15-8.
The crowd of 2,841 at the contest was the largest in Liberty Baseball Stadium history, eclipsing the previous record of 2,792 set during a 5-0 victory over VMI on April 4, 2014.
The visiting Cavaliers plated a run in the game's opening inning for a 1-0 edge. Center fielder Adam Haseley led off the contest with a single and moved to third base on a throwing error by Liberty starting pitcher Michael Stafford on a sacrifice bunt attempt by shortstop Daniel Pinero. Two batters later, third baseman Kenny Towns lifted a sacrifice fly to score the first run of the game.
Virginia extended its advantage with two runs in the third. With one out, Pinero and catcher Matt Thaiss each singled. Towns followed with a double off the left field wall, plating both runners for a 3-0 visitors' lead.
In the top of the fourth, the Cavaliers sent 10 men to the plate in a six-run uprising. Back-to-back singles with the bases loaded by Pinero and Thiass produced the first two runs of the frame. After a Flames pitching change, Towns singled in another run, making it, 6-0 Virginia. Later in the inning, a sacrifice fly and a two-run single by second baseman Ernie Clement pushed the Cavaliers' lead to 9-0.
Liberty got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning, with three consecutive one-out hits. Close doubled and scored on a double by shortstop Dalton Britt for the first Flames run. Catcher Becker Sankey followed with run-producing single to make it 9-2, Virginia.
The Flames cut into the Cavaliers' lead again in the fifth. Second baseman Nick Salisbury walked and left fielder Nick Paxton was hit by a pitch to open the inning. Two batters later, right fielder Will Shepherd walk to load the bases. Close followed with an opposite field single to plate Salisbury and Paxton, trimming the Virginia lead to 9-4.
After the Cavaliers scored a run in the top of the seventh on a Pinero single, Liberty answered with two in the home half of the inning, slicing the visitors' advantage to 10-6. Paxton opened the bottom of the seventh with a triple to center field. Perritt followed with a sacrifice bunt to score Paxton and advanced to second on a throwing error by Virginia third baseman Towns. Later in the frame, Britt lifted a sacrifice fly, scoring Perritt, slicing the Flames' deficit to 10-6.
Perritt hit a solo home run to open the bottom half of the ninth for what proved to be the final score of 10-7.
Stafford falls to 2-2 on the year. The right-hander gave up eight runs on 10 hits in three-plus innings. The first of three Liberty pitchers on the afternoon, He struck out two and walked two batters.
Virginia starting pitcher Derek Casey moves to 1-1 on the season. The right-hander, the first of four Cavaliers to pitch in the contest, gave up four runs on four hits. He struck out four batters and walked two.
Liberty collected nine hits. Virginia had 15 hits.
The Flames step back into Big South Conference play, this weekend. Liberty will host the Presbyterian Blue Hose in its first conference series of 2015 at Liberty Baseball Stadium. The three-game series gets underway, Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.