Catcher Becker Sankey collected three hits, including a three-run home run, and first baseman Alex Close also had three hits, as the Liberty Flames defeated the Old Dominion Monarchs, 9-7, Tuesday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Sankey collected his fourth three-hit game of the year and homered in his fourth straight game in the victory. The catcher's three-run home run in the fifth inning pushed his team-leading total to eight on the year and gave Liberty a lead it did not relinquish.
Close, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, also posted his fourth three-hit game of the season and scored twice. He pitched the ninth inning, recording his second save of the year.
Center fielder Ashton Perritt connected for a three-run home run in the second inning, his third of the year.
Liberty extends its winning streak to four games. The Flames move to 18-10 on the season. Liberty completes a six-game homestand with a 4-2 mark. Old Dominion drops to 13-12.
Each team scored in the game's opening inning. With one out, Monarch center fielder Connor Meyers and designated hitter Tyler Ostrich reached on back-to-back singles. A two-out double by left fielder Josh Eldridge plated both runners for a 2-0 edge in the top of the first.
Liberty countered with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning. Right fielder Will Shepherd singled, and later scored on single by shortstop Dalton Britt, making it, 2-1 Old Dominion after one.
Perritt gave Liberty the lead in the second. With second baseman Nick Salisbury and third baseman Jake Kimble aboard, Perritt ripped the first pitch he saw over the left-center field wall for a 4-2 Flames' advantage.
The Monarchs answered with three of their own in the top of the third. With the bases loaded and no one out, left fielder Josh Eldridge walked to force in the first run of the inning. After a Liberty pitching change, catcher Mike Perez hit a high bouncer which was lost in the sun and found its way into right field for a two-run single and a 5-4 Old Dominion edge.
The Flames went in front for good in the fifth. Close and Britt each singled to open the home half of the fifth. Sankey followed with a blast over the center field wall for a 7-5 Liberty lead.
Old Dominion cut the Flames' advantage with a run in the sixth. Eldridge led off the inning with a double and scored on a one-out single by shortstop Zach Rutherford, trimming the Liberty lead to one at 7-6.
The Flames pushed across two insurance runs in the eighth. With one out, Shepherd and Close each singled. Two batters later, Sankey reached on an infield single, loading the bases with two outs. Pinch hitter Sammy Taormina followed with a two-run single to extend the Liberty advantage to 9-6.
In the ninth, the Monarchs loaded the bases with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly. However, Close retired the next batter to close out the 9-7 Liberty victory.
Parker Bean moves to 3-2 on the year for Liberty. The right-hander entered with one out in the third, allowing one run on four hits over three innings of relief. The second of five Flames to pitch in the contest, Bean struck out two and walked one.
Old Dominion starting pitcher Nate Matheson drops to 1-1. He gave up seven runs on eight hits over four-plus innings. He struck out five and walked three.
Liberty steps back into Big South Conference play with a three-game series at Charleston Southern on Thursday. First pitch at CSU Ballpark is scheduled for 6 p.m.