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Kowalo, Shepherd Homer, as Toman Records 300th Win, Friday

February 26, 2016  Conway, S.C.  RSS
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Right fielder Will Shepherd hit his second home run of the season and scored three times, Friday.

Right fielder Will Shepherd hit his second home run of the season and scored three times, Friday.

Second baseman Andrew Kowalo and right fielder Will Shepherd each hit home runs, as the Liberty Flames defeated the Marshall Thundering Herd, 9-8, Friday in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament at Springs Brooks Stadium

With the victory, nine-year head coach Jim Toman records his 300th win of his career.

Kowalo hit his second home run of the season, a two-run round tripper in the second inning. Shepherd also connected on his second home run of the year and scored three times for the Flames in the contest.

Liberty moves to 3-2 on the season. Marshall drops to 1-3. The Flames win back-to-back games for the first time in 2016.

After starting pitcher Jack DeGroat worked out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the second, the Flames struck for three in the bottom of the inning. First baseman Sammy Taormina walked to open the frame and later, scored on a two-out single by designated hitter Nick Walker.

Kowalo followed by lining a home run over the left field wall for a 3-0 Liberty edge.

Marshall answered with two runs in the third. The first three batters of the inning walked, loading the bases. First baseman Tommy Lane followed with a two-run double off the center field wall, trimming the Flames' advantage to one, 3-2.

Both teams scored in the fourth. The Thundering Herd took a short-lived lead with two runs in the top of the inning. Shortstop Leo Valenti led off the frame with his first home run of the year to tie the contest at 3-3. Two batters later, a double by left fielder DJ Gee plated center fielder Corey Bird, who had singled, for a 4-3 edge.  In the bottom of the inning, Shepherd belted a two-out solo home run onto the boardwalk in left, knotting the contest at 4-4.

In the top of the sixth, Marshall put runners on the corners with one out. However, right-hander Zach Helsel was summoned into the game for Flames and he quickly ended the rally by retiring the next two batters on a foul out and grounder to second base.

Liberty also threatened in the bottom of the inning, moving a runner to second with two outs. However, the runner was stranded when the Flames' runner at first was picked off to end the frame.

Marshall went in front, 5-4, on a single in the top of the seventh, only to see the Flames push four across in the bottom of the inning. Shepherd, pinch hitter Austin Bream and Kowalo each walked to load the bases to open frame. Center fielder D.J. Artis then plated the first run plated the first run of the uprising with a grounder, tying the contest at 5-5.

Third baseman Dylan Allen followed with bunt single, scoring Bream and when pitcher Heston Van Fleet's throw sailed down the right field line, Kowalo scored for a 7-5 edge. Allen, who ended up on third base, came home on a single by shortstop Dalton Britt for an 8-5 Liberty advantage.

Marshall tied the contest with three runs in the top of the eighth. With the bases loaded and one out, second baseman Aaron Bossi singled to produce the first run of the inning. Designated hitter Ryne Dean followed with a walk to force in a run, bringing the Thundering Herd within one, 8-7. Valenti then lifted a RBI fly ball, knotting the contest again at 8-8.

In the bottom of the inning, Liberty went back in front on a wild pitch. Shepherd reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on a throwing error by Marshall shortstop Valenti, two batters later. Artis then walked to load the bases. With Allen at the plate, a wild pitch by Thundering Herd reliever Caleb Ross allowed Shepherd to score what proved to be the winning run.

Marshall moved the tying run to third with two outs in the top of the ninth, but Liberty reliever Shane Quarterley, who came on in the eighth inning, struck out right fielder Cory Garrastazu to close out the 9-8 Liberty victory.

Quarterly moves to 2-0 on the year. The final pitcher of six Flames to take the mound in the contest, Quarterley allowed one run over 1 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one.

Ross drops to 0-1. The Marshall right-hander gave up two runs on one hit, striking out three and walking one over two innings of relief.

Liberty collected seven hits. Marshall recorded 11. The Flames committed one error, while the Thundering Herd made three.

Liberty will play two games in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament, tomorrow. The Flames will face the Duke Blue Devils at noon and Marshall at 4 p.m. Both games will be played at Pelican Ballpark in Myrtle Beach, S.C.