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No. 3 Flames Roll Past No. 6 Panthers

May 21, 2009  Asheville, N.C.  RSS
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Cody Brown drove in six runs with four hits in Liberty's win Thursday night.

Cody Brown drove in six runs with four hits in Liberty's win Thursday night.

The No. 3 seed Liberty Flames tied the Big South Championship record for runs in a game, plating a season-high 20 runs en route to a 20-10 win over the No. 6 seed High Point Panthers, Thursday night in game six of the 2009 Big South Championship at McCormick Field.

The Flames' 20 runs equal the tournament record of Coastal Carolina, which has scored 20 runs twice in 2008 and 1986, and Elon, which did so in 2001.

Liberty's run total in the contest was the most the Flames have ever scored in a Big South Championship contest. It eclipses the previous mark of 19 runs scored by the Flames in a 19-6 defeat of Charleston Southern on May 25, 2002 at the Winthrop Ballpark in Rock Hill, S.C.

In addition, High Point and Liberty set a new Big South Championship record for combined runs in a game with 30. The mark erases the previous standard of 27 runs reached in 1997 in an 18-9 Liberty victory over UNC Greensboro and more recently in a 16-11 win by UNC Asheville over Liberty in 2006.

The Flames move to 33-19 on the year and remain the only unbeaten team in the double-elimination tournament. High Point falls to 21-31. Liberty will face the winner of Friday morning's elimination game between High Point and No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

High Point, the visitors on the scoreboard, jumped out to an early advantage in the first inning. Second baseman Jeff Cowan opened the contest with an infield single and advanced to second base when the next hitter, shortstop Alfie Wheeler, was hit by a pitch. Center fielder Bill Manion plated the first run of the game with a high chopper into left field for a RBI single. After the next two hitters were retired, first baseman Kyle Mahoney singled to right field, scoring both Wheeler and Manion for a 3-0 lead.

The Panther lead was short-lived, as Liberty sent 10 men to the plate in the bottom half of the inning, erupting for six runs. Shortstop Matt Williams (Fr., Franklin, Tenn.) and Curran Redal (Jr., Moses Lake, Wash.) started the opening frame uprising with back-to-back singles. Two batters later, left fielder Jeff Jefferson (So., Danville, Va.) chased home the Flames' first run of the contest with a single. Liberty then loaded the bases, when a grounder by catcher Errol Hollinger (Sr., Upland, Calif.) was mishandled by High Point third baseman Eric Marion for an error.

Designated hitter Cody Brown (Sr., Cumming, Ga.) followed by blasting a double off the top of the 20-foot left field wall, scoring two runs to knot the game at 3-3. Third baseman Kizuku Scott (Fr., Hampton, Va.) then put Liberty on top, 4-3, with a RBI ground out, bringing Hollinger home from third base. After first baseman Trey Wimmer (Fr., Greenwood, S.C.) walked and moved to second on a wild pitch, second baseman P.J. Jimenez (Jr., Yucaipa, Calif.) lined a two-out double high off the top of the wall in right-center field, cashing in both Brown and Wimmer for a 6-3 advantage.

In the second inning, Liberty sent all nine men in the batting order to the plate, upping its lead to 11-3. Redal opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a ground out. After the next two batters were retired, Hollinger doubled down the right field line, chasing home Redal with the first run of the frame. Brown followed with a blast which easily cleared the left field wall, his sixth home run of the year, extending the Liberty edge to 9-3. Scott walked and Wimmer singled to continue the inning. Jimenez then brought them both home with his second two-bagger of the game for an 11-3 lead.

Liberty scored again in the third, adding three runs to its advantage. Three consecutive hits plated the first run of the third inning. Redal, right fielder Doug Bream (So., Elizabethtown, Pa.) and Jefferson each singled to make it, 12-3 Flames. Hollinger followed with a RBI grounder and Brown singled to score Jefferson, upping the Liberty advantage to 14-3.

The Flames plated runs for the fourth-straight frame in their next at bat. Liberty scored its first run on a Panther error. Bream followed with a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning. Hollinger had a run-scoring double and Brown a RBI single, giving the Flames an 18-3 lead.

High Point plated four runs in the top of the fifth inning, while Liberty made it five consecutive scoring frames with a single run in the bottom half on a passed ball, making the score 19-7.

The Panthers added three more tallies in the seventh on a three-run home run by Cowan, his second of the season, for a 19-10 Flames margin.

In the eighth, Liberty tied the Big South record for runs in a tournament game, as Scott brought home pinch runner Joseph Feeley (So., OF, Chesapeake City, Md.) with a RBI ground out.

Liberty starter Steven Evans (So., Amherst, Va.) runs his record to 7-2 on the year. The left-hander, the first of three Flames hurlers in the game, allowed only the trio of first-inning runs, scattering nine hits over four innings. He struck out four and walked one.

High Point starter R.J. Chlebnikow was roughed up for six runs on five hits, before exiting after one inning. He was the first of four Panther pitchers in the contest and falls to 3-6.

Hollinger and Brown each had four of the Flames' 19 hits in the contest , while Brown also had six RBIs on the night. High Point's Cowan and Rosario had three hits apiece to pace the Panthers.