Right fielder Will Shepherd hit a home run and drove in three runs and reliever Zach Helsel provided four scoreless innings of relief, propelling the Liberty Flames to an 11-5 victory at Liberty Baseball Stadium, Saturday. They provided the Flames with a sweep in their first Big South series of 2016.
Shepherd had a two-run single and opened the bottom of the second inning with his third home run of the season. The junior right fielder also walked and scored three times in the Liberty victory.
Helsel entered the contest in the fourth with the bases loaded, two outs and three runs already in and induced a pop fly to end the inning. From there, he held the Bulldogs in check, not allowing a run and scattering three hits in completing four innings of relief. The right-hander recorded the first win of his college career, moving to 1-0 on the season.
Liberty leadoff batter D.J. Artis went 3-for-3 and was hit by a pitch to reach base all four times in the contest. He scored twice and had an RBI.
The Flames open Big South play with a 3-0 record and improve to 16-10 overall with their sweep of the three-game series. The Bulldogs fall to 0-6 in conference and 5-18 overall.
Liberty sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the first, plating six runs. Artis opened the frame with a double. Designated hitter Nick Walker and Shepherd each walked, loading the bases. A wild pitch allowed Artis to score the first run of the uprising. First baseman Andrew Yacyk followed with a two-run single for a quick 3-0 advantage.
Shortstop Dalton Britt then walked as the first five Flames to hit in the inning reached base. Two batters later, catcher Payton Scarbrough was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Third baseman Josh Barrick was then hit by a pitch to force in the fourth run of the inning.
Center fielder Jack Morris followed with a RBI sacrifice fly, upping Liberty's lead to 5-0.
Artis' second hit of the inning, a single, plated the final run of the inning, giving the Flames a 6-0 advantage.
In the second, Shepherd belted a solo home into the left field bullpen, extending Liberty's lead to 7-0,
UNC Asheville pushed a run across in the third against Flames' starter Parker Bean. Catcher Andrew Friedhom led of the inning with a walk and moved to second on a two-out single by designated hitter Pete Guy. After center fielder Joe Tietjen walked to load the bases, first baseman Danny Wilson walked to force in a run to make it, 7-1 Flames.
The Bulldogs plated three in the fourth. Left fielder Scott Kobos double, leading off the inning and later scored on a one-out infield single by shortstop Carmine Pagano. Two batters later, Tietjen singled with two outs, plating two runs to cut Liberty's advantage to 7-4. After Wilson walked to fill the bases, Helsel was brought on and he quickly got right fielder Kyle Carruthers to pop out to end the inning.
With Helsel in control, Liberty extended its lead in the sixth. Artis was hit by a pitch and stole second base to open the frame. Two batters later, Shepherd singled to bring around Artis with the Flames' first run of the home half of the sixth. Later in the inning, a run-producing single by second baseman Andrew Kowalo and two-run double by Payton Scarbrough gave the Flames an 11-4 advantage.
In the ninth, Asheville scored an unearned run for the final score of 11-5.
Bulldog starting pitcher Parker Swindell falls to 0-2. Swindell was roughed up for six runs on three hits and three walks over 1/3-plus innings. He struck out one.
Liberty collected 10 hits in the contest to Asheville's nine. Scarbrough had two hits and two RBI for the Flames.
Liberty travels to Durham. N.C., Tuesday for a contest against the Duke Blue Devils Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Liberty defeated Duke, 1-0, at Pelicans Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C. during the Battle at the Beach tournament, earlier this season.