Right-hander Noah Skirrow pitched six scoreless innings, propelling the No. 3 seed Liberty Flames past the No. 7 seed Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 4-2, in Game 5 of the 2018 Big South Baseball Championship at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Skirrow held the Buccaneers to four hits over the first six innings, as the Flames built a 4-0 advantage in the elimination contest. The freshman right-hander, who runs his record to 4-3 on the season, ended up allowing one run on six hits over 6 1/3-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked one.
Liberty advances to play the loser of this evening's Game 6 between No. 2 seed High Point and No. 6 seed Radford, tomorrow in Game 9. The contest is scheduled to start approximately 45 minutes after Game 8 between No. 1 seed Campbell and No. 5 seed Gardner-Webb, which begins the day at noon.
The Flames raise their record to 30-25 on the season. Liberty reaches 30 wins in a season for 14 consecutive year with the victory.
Charleston Southern ends its season with a 19-35 record.
The Flames took a 1-0 advantage in the game's opening inning. Center fielder D.J. Artis led off the bottom half of the first with a double into the right center field gap and advanced to third on ground out by left fielder Tre Todd. Two batters later, catcher Jonathan Embry, who had two hits in the contest, lined a single into right field to plate Artis for an edge.
Liberty pushed across a run in the fifth. With one out, Artis walked and advanced to second on a ground out by Ayden Karraker, who came into the game to play left field in the top of the fifth. Third baseman Tyler Galazin followed with a bloop single, which was lost in the sun by Charleston Southern second baseman Mike Sconzo, scoring Artis for a 2-0 lead.
The Flames added to their cushion in the sixth. First baseman Dylan Allen walked and right fielder Brandon Rohrer, who had two hits, singled to put runners on the corners with one out. After a Buccaneers pitching change, designated hitter Logan Mathieu dropped down a bunt, allowing Allen to score for a 3-0 advantage. Second baseman Ben Highfill followed with liner which got past a diving Charleston Southern center fielder Josh Litchfield for a triple and a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, the Buccaneers broke through against Skirrow, third baseman Jason Miller and first baseman Aaron Miller opened the inning with back-to-back singles. After both runners moved into scoring position on a fly out by shortstop Ryan Rizk, Jason Miller scored on a wild pitch to make it, 4-1 Liberty. Right fielder Derek Horton then walked, forcing the Flames to go to the bullpen. Right-hander Garret Price entered and struck out left fielder Josh Peters and got Litchfield to ground out to prevent further scoring and end the inning.
Facing elimination, Charleston Southern mounted a rally in the ninth. With one out, Aaron Miller doubled and scored on a double by Rizk, slicing the Flames' advantage to 4-2. Price then hit Horton with a pitch, but came back to get pinch hitter Justin Dahill to fly out and Litchfield to ground out to second base to close out the win.
Price pitched the final 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out two in earning his fifth save of the year.
Charleston Southern starter Tyler Weekley gave up four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked out three.
Each team had eight hits in the contest.
Liberty's Artis scored two runs in the game to raise his career total to 173, moving into second on the program all-time list. Pat Sipe (1983-86) is the Liberty leader with 179 run scored.
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