Liberty Baseball Falls to another ACC foe

DJ Artis reached base for his 90-straight start, which was one of only a few upsides in a lopsided 11-5 loss to Virginia Tech for Liberty Baseball Wednesday, May 2.

The game started with Liberty senior pitcher Vinnie Tarantola giving up two straight hits followed by a sac fly in the first inning. He then hit a batter and gave up a single to allow Virginia Tech to score three runs in the first inning.

Tarantola then settled in during the next couple innings.

On the offensive side, Liberty scored twice in the second inning and twice in the third inning, with Brandon Rohrer, Ben Highfill, Jonathan Embry and Cam Locklear all registering RBIs for the Flames. The Flames took a 4-3 lead going into the fourth.

Virginia Tech put a five-spot on Tarantola and the Flames as Tarantola struggled to strike out batters. He gave up hits on seven of ten at-bats where he got two strikes in the count, which does not typically translate to very many wins.

“They threw a lot of strikes and they were just way more aggressive tonight than we were in every facet of the game,” Head Coach Scott Jackson said. “You know, we got back in it there when (Tre) Todd scored and you know we couldn’t get Odachowski in the nine hole and the lineup rolls over.”

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech pitchers combined for seven strikeouts versus four walks. Liberty also allowed Virginia Tech’s infielder Jojo Odachowski to go 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored when he came into the game batting just 1-for-19.

“I thought that was as lackluster as we’ve been at home all year, which is frustrating because we’ve played well here,” Jackson said.

Liberty fell to 17-6 at home and 26-17 overall on the season. Virginia Tech improved 20-26 on the season and split the season series with the Flames, with each winning on the other team’s field.

Down 8-4 in the middle of the fourth inning, Liberty registered just one run in the ninth in their 11-5 loss. There were also two wild pitches and passed balls, allowing three Virginia Tech hitters reaching base on strikeouts.

Liberty’s bullpen struggled through the game. They allowed the three baserunners on strikeouts and gave up a combined seven hits and three walks in 5.1 innings pitched.

Virginia Tech’s win came from the bullpen just as much as it did from the pitcher’s mound. Their pitchers allowed eight hits while walking four and striking out seven. Their pitching made it difficult for the Liberty offense to get anything going. They were able to really quiet the Liberty offense after their small outburst in the second and third innings.

“I thought they did some really nice things,” Jackson said. “I think their defense was really good. I think three or four diving plays over there at first and second and one at third there late in the game. I think you got to give them credit.”

Jackson brought up the defensive play late in the game, in which Virginia Tech made three spectacular plays in a row on very hard-hit balls from Liberty. While Liberty was down by five runs at that point, they were trying to make a valiant effort of a comeback, Jackson said.

“Anytime you fail, it’s an opportunity to grow,” Jackson said. “I mean that’s what you hope as a coach, is that the kids look at it and they take it constructively and it allows them to grow in a way that hopefully makes them better at the end.”

Liberty will travel to Duke on Tuesday, May 8 after this weekend’s series at St. John’s. They will then return home Friday, May 11 for a weekend series against Big South foe Radford.

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