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Liberty Edged in 11 Innings by George Mason

April 30, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Tim Rotola had four hits and stole three bases Wednesday.

Tim Rotola had four hits and stole three bases Wednesday.

George Mason pushed across a run in the 11th inning, sending the Patriots past the Liberty Flames, 7-6, Wednesday afternoon at Worthington Stadium.

The setback drops Liberty to 22-23 on the year. George Mason moves to 24-21.

After turning back George Mason threats in both the first and second innings, the Flames jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the third frame. With one out, Aaron Phillips (Sr., SS, Claremore, Okla.) and Kenneth Negron (Jr., 2B, Kingwood, Texas) collected back-to-back singles. Tim Rotola (Jr., CF, Wichita, Kan.) followed with a well-placed bunt between the first baseman and the second baseman for a single, loading the bases. Phillips scored the first run of the contest, as David Giammaresi (Sr., 1B, Coral Springs, Fla.) lifted a sacrifice fly to right field. After a walk to Cody Brown (Jr., 3B, Boca Raton, Fla.) once again filled the bases, Aaron Grijalva (Sr., LF, Redlands, Calif.) received a base on balls, forcing in a run for a 2-0 advantage. Garrett Young (Sr., DH, Fountain Valley, Calif.) followed with a single up the middle to plate the third run of the frame.

The Patriots got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with a single tally, only to see Liberty answer in the bottom of the inning with two more runs. Right fielder Shane Davis walked to open the fourth for George Mason and later scored on a single by second baseman Ryan Soares. In the bottom of the frame, Negron singled with two outs and moved to second on a single by Rotola. Giammaresi then looped a single in front of the right fielder to chase home Negron. Rotola also scored on the play, when second baseman Soares dropped the throw on an attempt to get Giammaresi trying to advance to second, for a 5-1 Liberty lead.

In the fifth inning, George Mason plated five runs to take a 6-5 advantage. After a walk to first baseman Justin Bour, left fielder Scott Krieger lined a double down the left field line to move both runners into scoring position. Designated hitter Josh Steinberg followed with a double to the left center field gap to bring home both runners and cut the Patriot deficit to 5-3. The next two Patriots walked to load the bases, before the visitors scored their third run of the inning on a grounder to second base by center fielder Spencer Wiggins. The next George Mason batter, Soares, then gave the Patriots a short-lived 6-5 edge with a two-run double.

The Flames countered in the bottom of the inning, pushing across a run to knot the contest at 6-6. Grijalva singled through the middle to begin the frame and advanced on a bunt single by Young. After a sacrifice bunt by Jeff Jefferson (Fr., RF, Danville, Va.) moved both runners into scoring position, a grounder to the first baseman by Nathan Thompson (So., C, Stonehill, N.C.) brought home Grijalva to tie the game.

Over the next several innings, neither team could break through, sending the game to extra innings. After a scoreless 10th frame, the Patriots plated the game-winner in the 11th. Catcher Chris Henderson doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a ground out. The next batter, Krieger, struck out. However, Liberty catcher Errol Hollinger (Jr., Upland, Calif.), who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 10th, dropped the third strike. When the catcher threw to first to record the out, Henderson beat the return throw to put the Patriots up, 7-6.

In the bottom of the 11th, Rotola doubled into the right field corner to open the inning, but George Mason reliever Shawn Griffith retired the next three batters to seal the 7-6 victory for the Patriots.

Despite five innings of strong relief, Andrew Wilson (Jr., RHP, Cary, N.C.), the fourth Flames' pitcher in the contest, falls to 1-3 on the season. The right-hander pitched five innings, allowing three hits and one run. He struck out five George Mason hitters. Griffith, the fourth Patriot hurler in the contest, pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit to run his record to 2-1 on the year.

Liberty's Rotola led all hitters in the contest with four hits and three stolen bases. Teammate Negron had three hits in the game. Third baseman Mark Hill had three hits for the Patriots. Soares added two hits and drove in three runs for George Mason.

The Flame returns to conference action on the weekend. Liberty, 9-6 in the Big South, will travel to Charleston, S.C., for a three-game weekend series at Charleston Southern. The series opener is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.