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Pitching Keys Liberty's 1-0 Win over Duke

February 27, 2016  Myrtle Beach, S.C.  RSS
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Right-hander Zander Clouse recorded his first win in a Liberty uniform in 1-0 victory over Duke, Saturday.

Right-hander Zander Clouse recorded his first win in a Liberty uniform in 1-0 victory over Duke, Saturday.

A strong pitching effort by a trio of Liberty pitchers propelled the Flames to a 1-0 victory over the Duke Blue Devils, Saturday afternoon at Pelicans Ballpark in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament. The trio combined for the Flames' second shutout of the season.

Liberty starting pitcher Victor Cole pitched five scoreless innings. The senior left-hander yield one hit, striking out three and walking two.

Zander Clouse followed and recorded his first Liberty victory, moving to 1-0. The right-hander pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and walking two.

Shane Quarterley finished the contest, earning his first save of the year. The right-hander gave up one hit over the final 1 2/3 innings. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.

Liberty pitching stranded 10 Blue Devil runners, seven of which were in scoring position and four at third base.

Designated hitter Eric Grabowski collected two hits and scored the lone run in the contest.

Liberty, winners of three-straight contests, move to 4-2 on the year. Duke falls to 4-2. The game was the first of three meetings between the two teams, this season.

Both teams mounted scoring threats in the second inning. Liberty loaded the bases with one out, but came away empty in the top of the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Duke put runners at the corners with one out, but Flames starting pitcher Cole was able to get out of the jam, thanks to catcher Josh Latta. The catcher fielded a squeeze bunt out in front of home plate and was able to tag the Blue Devil runner trying to score to keep the game scoreless.

Another Liberty scoring threat was turned away by Duke starting pitcher Trent Swart in the fourth. Back-to-back singles by second baseman Andrew Kowalo and Grabowski put Flames at first and third with one out. However, Swart was able to get the next batter to ground into a double play to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Cole once again thwarted a Blue Devils' threat. After opening the inning with a walk, center fielder Evan Dougherty moved to third base with two out. Two batters later, Cole got left fielder Jimmy Herron to ground out to the left-hander to squelch another scoring opportunity.

The Flames broke through for a run in the top of the seventh. Grabowski singled off Duke reliever James Ziemba and advance to second on a wild pitch to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Latta sent a grounder to third base. Duke third baseman Jack Labosky attempted to throw out Grabowski sliding back into the bag at second, only to see the throw go wide, allowing the runner to move to third. With center fielder Aaron Stroosma at the plate, Grabowski then scored on a wild pitch to give Liberty a 1-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the inning, Duke once again moved a runner to third base, this time with one out. However, Flames reliever Clouse was able to retire the next two Duke batters on fly balls to hold the Liberty lead.

Duke loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but this time it was Quarterley keeping the Blue Devils off the scoreboard. Right fielder Peter Zyla singled with one out. After back-to-back walks to  Labosky and designated hitter Chris Perez, Quarterley was summoned from the Liberty bullpen. Making his third straight appearance for the Flames, the junior right-hander proceeded to get shortstop Zack Kone to bounce into a double play, ending the Duke scoring threat.

In the bottom of the ninth, Quarterley retired the first two batters, before a single by pinch hitter Griffin Conine. Quarterley then closed out the Liberty victory by inducing foul out to right field for the win.

Ziemba falls to 0-1 for Duke. The second of four pitchers for the Blue Devils, he gave up one run on one hit. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.

Each team had five hits in the contest.

Later today, the Flames will take on the Marshall Thundering Herd in a rematch of yesterday's 9-8 Liberty win. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.