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Flames Open Big South Series With 16-3 Win

April 20, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Derek Bennion had three hits in Friday's Flames' win.

Derek Bennion had three hits in Friday's Flames' win.

The Liberty Flames pounded out 14 hits, including hits by 10 different players, and took advantage of four Radford Highlander errors on their way to a 16-3 win Friday in the opening game of a three-game Big South series at Worthington Stadium.

The Flames' win moves their record to 24-16, and 6-4 in conference. Radford drops to 8-26 on the year, and 1-12 in Big South play.

Radford started the day's scoring in the top of the first. After a fly out to open the game, number two hitter Corey Greene drew a walk. First baseman Alan Gregory then singled to right field to put runners at the corners. Designated hitter Jeff Cooper followed with an RBI single to left to give the Highlanders an early 1-0 lead. Liberty starter Dustin Umberger (So., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) avoided further scoring in the frame, as the right-hander retired the next two hitters without further incident.

The Flames responded to Radford's early tally, as Liberty got on the board in the bottom half of the opening frame. Lead-off man Kenneth Negron (So., OF, Kingwood, Texas) was hit on the wrist to start the inning and P.K. Keller (Jr., OF, Clearwater, Fla.) reached on an error. Center fielder Garrett Young (Jr., OF, Fountain Valley, Calif.) followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. After a walk loaded the bases, Patrick Gaillard (Sr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) singled to left to drive in Negron and tie the game at 1. A fielder's choice ground ball gave the Flames a 2-1 lead, and Derek Bennion (OF, R-Sr., Snohomish, Wash.) followed with an RBI single up the middle for Liberty's third run of the contest.

The Flames then added a single run in the second for a 4-1 advantage, and Liberty tallied two more in the third. In the second inning, a Radford error allowed a run to score. Errol Hollinger (So., C, Upland, Calif.) drove in a run with a ground out in the third, and the next batter, Negron, plated Liberty's sixth run of the day with an RBI single to left.

Radford threatened in the bottom of the third, as Gregory doubled to right-center to open the inning. Two outs later, Highlander left fielder Jonathan Spears singled to right. Gregory attempted to score from second, but was thrown out at home by Liberty's Keller to retire the side.

Liberty put the game out of reach in the fourth, as the Flames sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs. The first two hitters reached to begin the uprising, and designated hitter Tim Nanry (Sr., OF, Rochester, N.Y.) put down a sacrifice bunt to move them over. A throwing error by the second baseman allowed two runs to score, as the Highlanders attempted to cut down a runner trying to score. 

The miscue pushed the Flames' lead to 8-1, and one batter later, Bennion delivered his second RBI single of the afternoon. After a walk loaded the bases, catcher Hollinger delivered a double to the left-center field gap, clearing the bases and increasing the Liberty advantage to 12-1.

Radford got back on the scoreboard in the sixth. Second baseman Tom Neiman doubled to start the inning and shortstop Rocky Weiss drove him home with a single. After another base hit put two men on, Steve Mignogna reached on an error to load the bases. Umberger rallied to strike out the next hitter, but the Highlanders' Gregory singled to right, scoring Weiss to make it a 12-3 game. The Flames' Chase Vaden (Fr., LHP, Lynch Station, Va.) then relieved and the freshman induced a double play, ending the inning without further incident.

Liberty answered with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame. David Giammaresi (R-Jr., INF, Coral Springs, Fla.) drove in a run with a fielder's choice ground out. Nate Thompson (R-Fr., C, Stoneville, N.C), who had entered as a defensive replacement in the fifth, doubled to bring in another tally and boost Liberty's edge back to 14-3.

Vaden retired the Radford side in order in the seventh and his teammates ended the scoring in the bottom half of the inning. Phil John (Sr., OF, Linwood, N.J.) singled to left to open the frame and pinch-hitter Cory Johnson (Fr., C, Lake Worth, Fla.) followed with a single to center. One out later, Shawn Teufel (So., 1B, Tequesta, Fla.) drove in a run with a groundball single to right, which was followed by a fielder's choice groundout for the second out of the inning. Giammaresi added the Flames' last run with an RBI single.

For the Flames on the day, Negron, Keller, and Bennion all had multiple-hit games, led by Bennion's three-hit performance. Ten Flames had at least one safety during the contest. The Highlanders were led by Gregory's three-hit outing, and Neiman had two hits on the afternoon for Radford.

On the mound, Umberger was credited with the victory, as he pitched into the sixth inning and allowed three runs. The right-hander surrendered twelve hits and struck out three to run his record to 4-3. Kyle Starr took the loss for Radford to fall to 1-4.

The two teams return to action on Saturday, as they continue their Big South series. The middle game of the three-game weekend set at Worthington Stadium is scheduled to begin at Noon.