Left-hander Victor Cole no-hit the visiting Bryant Bulldogs over the first eight innings, leading the Liberty Flames to a 6-1 victory, Saturday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Cole was in charge throughout the afternoon, not allowing a hit through the first eight innings. After a fielding error in the third inning allowed a runner to reach, Cole retired 16 out the next 17 Bryant hitters, entering the ninth. The left-hander walked a batter with one out in the seventh.
Center fielder Matt Albanese led off the ninth with a double inside the left field line, breaking up the no-hitter. Albanese came around to score on a sacrifice fly, but Cole closed out the visiting Bulldogs to close out the first complete game of 2015 by a Liberty pitcher.
Cole records his first victory in a Liberty uniform, moving to 1-0 on the year. The left-hander gave up one run on one hit over the full nine innings. He struck out a season-high eight and walked two Bulldogs.
Liberty moves to 5-3 on the year. The Flames have won three straight contests. Bryant falls to 0-5.
Liberty took advantage of four Bryant errors to post three-run innings in both the third and the seventh innings.
Second baseman Clay Keranen opened the third for the host Flames with a single and was advanced to second by a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Josh Barrick. After Kernanen moved to third on a bunt by left fielder Josh Close, a two-out fielding error by Bulldogs shortstop Jacob Marotta, allowed Kernanen to score, giving Liberty a 1-0 advantage. First baseman Alex Close followed with a RBI double into the left field corner for a 2-0 edge. Designated hitter Andrew Yacyk then single back through the middle of the infield to plate Alex Close for a 3-0 lead.
In the seventh, the Flames once again took advantage of Bryant miscues. With one out, Barrick doubled and Josh Close singled. Two batters later, Alex Close singled past the shortstop. The ball was misplayed by Bulldogs left fielder A.J. Zarony, allowing Barrick to score and the Close brothers to end up in scoring position at second and third.
Josh Close then scored on a wild pitch, extending the Flames' advantage to 5-0. A throwing error by Bryant third baseman John Mullen on a ground ball by Yacyk let Alex Close come home for a 6-0 lead.
In the ninth, Albanese collected Bryant's lone hit of the day, leading off the inning and stole third base with one out. Mullen followed with a sacrifice fly for the final score of 6-1.
Bryant starting pitcher Trevor Lacosse drops to 0-1 on the year. He allowed three runs, all unearned, on five hits. He struck out eight Flames and walked one.
Liberty collected eight hits in the contest. Alex Close, Kernanen and Yacyk had two hits apiece for the Flames.
Liberty and Bryant will meet again in the series finale tomorrow afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.