Senior Trey Mcdyre’s big bat propels Flames to 16 runs in win over Longwood
Led by second baseman Trey McDyre and his continued excellence at the plate. Liberty baseball exploded offensively Tuesday night, scoring 16 runs against Longwood.
McDyre came up to bat in the first three innings, doubling every time and batting in five runs. He also scored four runs and recorded four hits as part of a 16-hit, 16-run night for the Flames (4-4) in their 16-6 win over Longwood (2-7). McDyre is batting .500 so far this season, with 11 hits in 22 at-bats, and capitalized on opportunities early in the game.
“It was awesome to have success early,” McDyre said. “We were getting guys on base, so I was looking to swing and try to move the ball and get them around the bases.”
Eight different Flames batters recorded hits, including sophomore Gray Betts, who snapped out of his slump with a three-hit night.
On Sunday against Seton Hall, with Betts in the midst of a one-for-29 slump from the plate, Head Coach Scott Jackson took a moment to talk to his leadoff hitter about looking to stay comfortable.
“I told him to relax,” Jackson said Sunday night. “I told him to relax, we all know how good of a player he is, and we have put him in the leadoff spot to show we believe in him. I wanted him to have that thought in his head that his coaches believe in him.”
Their belief paid off, as Betts singled in the first, third and fifth innings, scoring two runs with one run batted in.
“The support from my teammates and the coaches has been everything,” Betts said. “It was really a time where they came around me and pushed me to keep plugging along and stay confident in myself.”
Last year, Betts led the team in batting average, and having him producing will be crucial for the team going forward this season.
“It felt good to be back,” Betts said. “I felt a lot more like myself tonight. You build this brotherhood with your teammates, and that makes me want to be successful and help them be successful.”
The Flames jumped on Longwood starter Andrew Melnyk, who gave up six hits and nine runs, eight of them earned, and was chased out of the game with two outs in the second inning.
Another bright spot offensively came in the sixth inning, when Matt Shilling made his first career appearance for the Flames, replacing catcher Brady Gulakowski. Batting against Longwood reliever Maceo Campbell, Shilling smashed a 390-foot home run to right center in his first at-bat for the team.
“Unbelievable,” Betts said describing that moment. “We all love Matt and he’s been grinding along so to see that happen is great. You love to see those guys succeed.”
On the mound for the Flames, starter Mason Hand displayed another dominant performance, allowing one run and four hits over five innings, with six strikeouts and no walks allowed. Hand retired the first seven batters he faced before Longwood shortstop Ricky Jimenez singled with one out in the third.
“He was great tonight,” Betts said of Hand. “He really attacked with his fastball and his off-speed stuff was there tonight. It makes it fun to play behind him when he’s attacking and making them uncomfortable.”
As the Flames went to their bullpen with debuts from Christian Gordon and appearances from David Erickson and Cole Garrett, Longwood attempted a late comeback, with seven hits and five runs in the last four innings. But Troy Britts took the mound in the ninth against the heart of Longwood’s batting order and recorded three quick outs to secure the win.
Hand (0.82 ERA) picked up his second win in two starts for the Flames and joins starter Noah Skirrow (0.73) as the only Flames pitchers this season with multiple starts and an ERA under one.
The Flames next host Marist College (2-4) to continue their homestand in a weekend series. The first game will start shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at Worthington Field.
Wylie is the assistant sports editor. Follow him on Twitter.