Right-hander Keegan Linza went the full nine innings for the third straight outing, leading the Liberty Flames past the Winthrop Eagles, 5-2, in the first game of a Big South doubleheader at Worthington Stadium, Friday afternoon.
With the win, Liberty moves to 4-0 in the Big South and 13-10 overall. Winthrop falls to 2-2 in conference play and 9-12 overall.
Linza held the Eagles in check to record his fourth complete game of his career and run his record to 5-0 on the year. The senior right-hander allowed two runs on nine hits, striking out five and walking two batters. Linza has now gone the distance in three consecutive starts, against Rutgers, Charleston Southern and Winthrop.
The visiting Eagles struck for the first run of the contest in the second inning. Right-fielder T.J. Olesczuk turned a Linza offering around for his first home run of his career. The two-out round tripper gave Winthrop a 1-0 advantage.
Liberty evened the game in the third inning. With one out, Michael Robertson singled back through the middle and quickly stole second base. After moving to third base on a single by shortstop Matt Williams, left fielder Doug Bream delivered Robertson with a single to knot the game at 1-1.
Winthrop moved back in front on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Second baseman Tyler Cook reached on a fielder's choice and stole second. Third baseman Chas Crane followed with an RBI single to right field, giving the Eagles a 2-1 edge.
The Flames answered in the bottom of the stanza. With one out, Robertson was hit by a pitch. He then scored on an errant throw by Winthrop pitcher Tyler Mizenko on a bunt by the next Liberty batter, Williams. Bream followed with a triple which hopped over Eagle outfielder Walters' glove and rolled all the way to the bottom of the wall, bringing Williams around and putting the Flames in front, 3-2. Bream then made it, 4-2, by scoring on a wild pitch.
In the sixth inning, Liberty upped its lead to the 5-2 final margin. Second baseman Austin Taylor walked and stole second base. After moving to third base on a ground out by center fielder Ian Parmley, Robertson plated Taylor with a double to the left-center field gap.
Robertson went 2-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored for the Flames. Bream added two hits and two RBIs. Liberty had six hits in the contest. Cook and left fielder Patrick Gamblin each had two hits for the Eagles.