Phillip Laurent drove in three runs to back eight scoreless innings by Michael Solbach as the Liberty Flames downed the Marist Red Foxes, 5-4, to run their record to 16-3, matching the best start in school history, Wednesday at Worthington Stadium.
The Flames' 16-3 mark ties the 1979 Liberty squad for the best start in school history. The 1979 team also began its season 16-3. Current Flames' head coach Matt Royer was a member of that squad. Marist falls to 4-7.
The Flames jumped on the board with a single run in the first inning. Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) led off the frame with a double to the right center field gap, advanced to third on a fly out to right, and plated Liberty's first run of the afternoon, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) for a 1-0 advantage.
Liberty extended its lead to 4-0 in the third inning. Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) and Grijalva opened the inning with singles. Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.) followed with a double high off the wall in left center field, chasing home both Just and Grijalva for a 3-0 advantage. Two batters later, a sharp single up the middle by P.K. Keller (So., CF, St. Petersburg, Fla.) brought home Laurent with the Flames' third run of the frame.
The Flames added a run in the fifth inning. After Just singled to lead off frame, Laurent doubled for the second time on the day to score the second baseman and put Liberty up, 5-0.
Meanwhile, Solbach (r-So., RHP, Woodbridge, Va.) held the Red Foxes scoreless through eight innings to run his record to 4-0 on the season. The right-hander allowed six hits, all singles, and struck out four.
In the ninth inning, Marist rallied for four runs on RBI singles by second baseman Kyle Meyers and shortstop Pat Feeney, a fielder's choice and a throwing error by the catcher, however, Liberty reliever Tim John (Jr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) worked his way out of the inning by striking out a Red Fox hitter with a runner on first to end the game.
Marist starter Jacob Wiley (0-1) picked up his first loss of the season, allowing four runs and eight hits in three innings.
Three Flames had multiple hit games as Keller was 3-for-4 on the day with a RBI, while Gaillard had two hits in the game and for the second straight day, Laurent had two hits and drove in three runs. Feeney, with three hits, and third baseman John Mazello, with two hits, had multiple hit games for the Red Foxes.
Liberty continues its five-game home stand Friday as the Flames begin a three-game weekend series with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1 p.m.