Second baseman Ben Highfill scores on a wild pitch. Highfill had three hits in Liberty's victory.
The No. 3 seed Liberty Flames toppled the No. 1 seed Campbell Fighting Camels, 10-5, Friday afternoon in Game 11 of the 2018 Big South Baseball Championship at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
With the win, Liberty, 32-25, forces a seven-inning elimination game against the Camels, 33-24, tonight at Liberty Baseball Stadium, with the winner advancing to tomorrow afternoon's title game.
Flames second baseman Ben Highfill collected his first three-hit game of the season, driving in two runs and scoring two runs.
Liberty, the visitors due to seeding, jumped out to an early advantage in the top of the second. With one out, designated hitter Logan Mathieu walked and moved to third on a double to right field by right fielder Brandon Rohrer. Left fielder Ayden Karraker followed with a single to center field to plate the first two runs of the game. Karraker then advanced to second on a balk by Camel pitcher Michael Horrell and scored on a single through the right side of the infield by center fielder D.J. Artis for a 3-0.
Both teams plated runs in the third. With two outs in the top third, Mathieu singled home third baseman Tyler Galazin, who drew a walk to lead off the inning, for a 4-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Campbell cut into the Liberty lead. Third baseman Kyle Mehl and left fielder Matthew Barefoot each walked to open the frame. After both runners moved into scoring position on first baseman's Tyler Anshaw sacrifice bunt, right fielder Jeff Hahs walked to load the bases. Second baseman Christian Jones followed with a bases-clearing double, trimming the Liberty edge to 4-3.
The Flames added to their lead in fourth. Highfill walked with one out and advanced to second on a single by Artis. Highfill moved to third on a fly out by catcher Jonathan Embry, Artis stole second and Galazin drew a two-out walk to load the bases. A wild pitch allowed Highfill to come home and up the Liberty lead to 5-3, before Campbell reliever Wyatt Tyson got Liberty first baseman Dylan Allen to pop out to end the inning and prevent any further scoring.
The Camels pulled within a run again in the fifth. With one out, Barefoot singled and Anshaw was hit by a pitch. After right fielder Jeff Hahs walked to load the bases, Jones lifted a sacrifice fly to left, plating Barefoot and cutting the Flames edge to 5-4.
Liberty broke open the contest in the seventh. The Flames sent 10 men to hit in the inning, scoring five runs. With one out, shortstop Cam Locklear singled and Mathieu and Rohrer walked to load the bases. After a Campbell pitching change, Karraker was hit by a pitch to force in the first run of the inning. Highfill followed with a two-run single to right for an 8-4 lead. Two batters later, Embry drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run and Galazin grounded out to plate another run for a 10-4 advantage.
In the Campbell seventh, Barefoot singled with one out and later scored on a ground out by Hahs for what proved to be the final score of 10-5.
Liberty starter Zach Clinton raises his record to 7-5 on the year. In his second start of the tournament, the right-hander allowed four runs on five hits over five innings. He struck out one and walked four.
Jackson Bertsch followed and gave up one run over four innings to earn his third save. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
Horrell drops to 6-4. He gave up five runs on five hits, before being chased after 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked three. Campbell pitchers combined to issue 10 bases on balls in the contest.
The Flames outhit the Camels, 9-8. Neither team committed an error.