First baseman Sammy Taormina hit two home runs and drove in four runs in Liberty's 8-5 victory.
First baseman Sammy Taormina hit two home runs, driving in four runs, to power the Liberty Flames past the UMBC Retrievers, 8-5, Friday evening at Lexington County vs. Cancer at Lexington County Baseball Stadium.
The reigning Big South Player of the Week, Taormina continued to swing a hot bat to start the season, connecting for his first two home runs of the season, collecting four RBI and walking twice in the contest. The Liberty first baseman has hit .556 and has posted four multiple-hit games to begin the season.
Liberty reliever Shane Quarterley pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, shutting down the UMBC hitters to record the win. He moves to 1-0 on the season, allowing two hits and striking out four. The right-hander did not walk a batter.
The Flames improve to 4-1 on the year. Head Coach Scott Jackson's team has won four straight games. The Retrievers, playing in their first game of the year, drop to 0-1.
Liberty, the visiting team on the scoreboard, struck for two runs in the top of the second. With one out, second baseman Andrew Kowalo singled through the left side of the infield and advanced to second when center fielder D.J. Artis drew a one-out walk. Left fielder Jake Barbee followed by ripping the first pitch of his at bat to the bottom of the center field wall to score both runners for a 2-0 edge.
Both teams plated runs in the fourth. Taormina's first home run of the contest, a solo blast over the right-center field wall, extended the Flames' lead to 3-0.
However, UMBC answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame to tie the contest. Leadoff hitter, second baseman Mitchell Carroll, walked and moved to second on a ground out. With one out, a single by catcher Hunter Dolshun plated Carroll with the Retrievers' first run of the game. Two batters later, center fielder Andrew Casali lined a double into the right-center field gap to cut the Liberty edge to 3-2. Right fielder Collin Stack followed with a run-scoring single to even the score at 3-3.
The Flames pushed across a run in the top of the fifth, only to see UMBC plate two in the bottom of the inning. Artis ripped a one-out double off the right field wall and later, scored on a wild pitch for a one-run Liberty advantage in the top of the frame. A two-run double by Dolshun in UMBC's turn at bat gave the Retrievers a 5-4 advantage.
In the seventh, Taormina put Liberty in front for good. With one out, Barbee walked and quickly moved to second, when right fielder Will Shepherd lined the first pitch of his at bat back through the middle of the diamond. Taormina followed by belting a 2-0 pitch over the right field wall for 7-5 lead.
Liberty added an insurance run in the eighth. Catcher Matt Allen lined a double into the left field corner with one out to score third baseman Ben Highfill, who reached on an error to open the inning, for what proved to be the final score of 8-5.
UMBC reliever Joe Vanderplas drops to 0-1. The left-handed reliever gave up three runs on Taormina's second home run of the evening and three hits over two innings of work. He walked two batters.
Liberty collected 11 hits in the contest. Three Flames, Shepherd, Allen and Kowalo, joined Taormina with two hits apiece. UMBC had six hits.
The Retrievers made three errors, while the Flames committed one.
Up Next: Liberty continues play in Lexington County vs. Cancer, tomorrow. The Flames will face the Kansas State Wildcats at Lexington County Baseball Stadium. Game time is slated for 2 p.m.