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Swanson, Flames Down Jaguars

February 21, 2009  Mobile, Ala.  RSS
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Catcher Errol Hollinger hit his first home run of the season in 5-2 victory over South Alabama.

Catcher Errol Hollinger hit his first home run of the season in 5-2 victory over South Alabama.

Right-hander Mark Swanson pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in his Liberty debut and catcher Errol Hollinger hit his first home run of the season, as the Flames defeated host South Alabama, 5-2, Saturday at Stanky Field in the third game of the Coca-Cola Classic.

Liberty collects its first victory of the season, evening its record at 1-1. South Alabama falls to 1-1. The contest was the first ever meeting between the two schools on the baseball diamond.

Making his inaugural outing in a Liberty uniform, Swanson (Jr., RHP, Buford, Ga.) was in control throughout the first seven innings against the Jaguar batters. The right-hander did not allow a runner past second base until leaving in the eighth frame with the bases loaded and two outs. Swanson finished his outing, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out five and walking two South Alabama batters.

Liberty took advantage of a two-out, South Alabama miscue to plate the first run of the contest in the top of the fourth inning. Designated hitter Cody Brown (Sr., Cumming, Ga.) singled through the left side of the infield and moved to second when the next batter, first baseman Trey Wimmer (Fr., Greenwood, S.C.), lined his first hit of the season through the right side of the infield for a single.

With Hollinger at the plate, Jaguar starter Bobby Sage overthrew second base in a pickoff attempt of Brown. When South Alabama center fielder Adam Heisler couldn't come up with the errant throw, Brown came around to score for a 1-0 Flames' lead.

In their next at bat, Liberty used two more Jaguar errors to extend its advantage. Shortstop Matt Williams (Fr., Franklin, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch to begin the Flames fifth frame. The freshman advanced to second as South Alabama second baseman Zach Grichor mishandled a ground ball by Liberty center fielder Curran Redal (Jr., Moses Lake, Wash.), allowing a pair of runners to reach safely.

The two runners then executed a double steal, moving to second and third. After the first out of the inning, second baseman P.J. Jimenez (Jr., 2B, Yucaipa, Calif.) hit a chopper out in front of the plate, which Jaguar relief pitcher Michael Raia fielded, but threw away in an attempt to throw out Williams attempting to score. The errant throw also enabled Redal to come home, pushing the Liberty edge to 3-0.

Hollinger upped the Flames' lead in the sixth inning. The senior catcher blasted his first home run of the season off the bottom of the Stanky Field scoreboard, upping the Liberty lead to 4-0.

For the fourth straight frame, the Flames plated a run. Jimenez was hit by a pitch to open the seventh. Left fielder Jeff Jefferson (So., Danville, Va.) followed by lining a double off the top of the left-center field, cashing in Jimenez for a 5-0 advantage.

Liberty right-hander Carter Browning (Jr., RHP, Ada, Okla.) picked up a save in his first game as a Flame. Relieving Swanson, he gave up three hits in 1 1/3 innings.

South Alabama starter Sage takes the loss. The left-hander allowed three unearned runs on three hits over 4 1/3 innings of work. Mike Ria, the second of four Jaguar hurlers, followed Sage, yielding two runs on four hits in 1 1/3 frames of relief.

Jefferson led all hitters in the contest with three hits. Tyler Bream (Fr., 3B, Zelienople, Pa.) added two hits for the Flames. Right-fielder Chris Davis had two hits for the South Alabama.

The Flames and Jaguars will meet again this evening in the fifth game of the Coca-Classic at Stanky Field. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.