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Liberty Downs Lehigh, 6-3

February 27, 2010  Wimington, N.C.  RSS
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Shortstop Matt Williams went 4-for-5 in Liberty's win, Saturday.

Shortstop Matt Williams went 4-for-5 in Liberty's win, Saturday.

Shortstop Matt Williams had four hits and catcher Jerry Neufang hit a three-run home run, propelling the Liberty Flames past the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 6-3, Saturday morning, in the Hughes Brothers Challenge at Brooks Stadium.

Liberty moves to 5-0 on the year. It is the second time in the three-year tenure of head coach Jim Toman that the Flames have started a season unbeaten through five games. Liberty also opened the 2008 season, Toman's first year at the helm of the Flames, 5-0.

Liberty, the visitors on the scoreboard, jumped into the lead in the top of the second inning. After designated hitter Nathan Thompson (Sr., Stoneville, N.C.) singled to left field with one out, Neufang (Jr., Stafford, Va.) blasted his first home run of the season over the center field wall for a 2-0 Flames advantage.

Liberty added to its lead in its next at bat. With one out in third, Williams (So., Franklin, Tenn.) doubled down the left field line and scored two batters later on a single by center fielder Curran Redal (Sr., Moses Lake, Wash.) for a 3-0 lead. After an error by Mountain Hawk third baseman Jim McConlogue on a grounder by third baseman Tyler Bream (So., Zelienople, Pa.) loaded the bases with Flames, Thompson drew a walk to bring in the second run of the frame, upping the Liberty edge to 4-0. Neufang followed by being hit by a pitch to push across the third run of the inning to extend the Flames lead to 5-0.

In the fourth inning, Liberty increased its advantage with run. Left fielder Kenneth Negron (Sr., Kingwood, Texas) was hit by a pitch and scored on the second double of the game for Williams, a liner off the wall in left field, giving the Flames a 6-0 edge.

Lehigh got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame. With one out, McConlongue doubled to plate right fielder Andrew Russell, who walked, to make it, 6-1, Liberty.

The Mountain Hawks scored two more runs in the eighth inning. Shortstop Brendan McGaheran and center fielder Billy Goldman opened the frame by being hit by pitches. Russell followed with a single through the middle to plate McGaheran to cut the Flames lead to 6-2. Goldman made it, 6-3, scoring on a throwing error to first base by Williams trying to complete a double play.

In the bottom of the ninth, the first two Lehigh runners reached against right-hander Josh Richardson (Fr., Chesapeake, Va. ). However, Richardson struck out the next batter and induced the following batter to ground into a double play to record his first collegiate save.

Starter Keegan Linza (Jr., RHP, Salisbury, N.C.) gave the Flames another strong outing and ran his record to 2-0 on the year. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits over seven innings of work. He struck out three batters and walked three.

Mountain Hawk starter Kevin Mihalik, making his first start of the year, takes the loss to drop to 0-1. The right-hander allowed six runs on six hits over three innings. He struck out three hitters and walked two.

Liberty wraps up the Hughes Brothers Challenge tomorrow afternoon, when the Flames face host UNC Wilmington at Brooks Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.