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Despite 9th Inning Rally, Liberty Edged by Kansas State, 4-3

February 26, 2017  Lexington, S.C.  RSS
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Right-hander Jack DeGroat struck out five in 2 2/3 innings, Sunday.

Right-hander Jack DeGroat struck out five in 2 2/3 innings, Sunday.

A two-out ninth inning by the Flames fell short, as the Kansas State Wildcats edged Liberty, 4-3, to close out Lexington County vs. Cancer at Lexington County Baseball Stadium, Sunday.

Trailing 4-2 with two outs in the ninth, first baseman Sammy Taormina singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Eric Grabowski followed with an infield single, on which Taormina scored on an errant throw by Kansas State shortstop Jake Wodtke to cut the Wildcats' lead to 4-3. Grabowski then stole second base, advancing into scoring position. However, Wildcats' reliever Jordan Floyd was able to get the next batter to bounce out to close out the Flames and the 4-3 win, earning his fourth save of the year.

Liberty drops to 4-3 on the year. Kansas State moves to 6-2. The Wildcats took both meetings from the Flames during the weekend.

Liberty received solid pitching from right-handers Jackson Bertsch and Jack DeGroat to keep the Flames within striking distance. Bertsch (0-1) gave up four runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one. DeGroat came on in relief and allowed one run over the final 2 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Liberty, the visitors on the scoreboard, plated the game's first run in its opening at bat. Left fielder Jake Barbee led off the game with a single and moved to second on a single by Taormina. Grabowski followed with a RBI single for a 1-0 advantage.

      Kansas State answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the first. Center fielder Cameron Thompson opened the frame with a single back through the middle. Later, he scored on a two-out single by first baseman Jake Scudder to tie the contest at 1-1.

      Liberty went back on top on the scoreboard in the fourth, scoring a run without a hit. Shortstop Cam Locklear drew a leadoff walk and catcher Payton Scarbrough was hit by a pitch to open the inning. Two batters later, third baseman Ben Highfill walked to load the bases with one. Pinch hitter Jonathan Embry then walked to force in a run and give the Flames a 2-1 edge.

      After Bertsch had set down 10 Kansas State batters in a row, the Wildcats struck for two runs in the fifth. Shortstop Quintin Crandall walked and right fielder Hanz Harker singled through the right side to begin the bottom half of the inning. Left fielder Will Brennan was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Two batters later, a fielder's choice RBI grounder by Thompson tied the game, and a two-out wild pitch allowed Kansas State to take the lead at 3-2.

      The Wildcats extended their advantage in the sixth. Scudder led off the home half of the inning with a double off the left field wall and scored on a single by catcher Josh Rolette for a 4-2 lead. Kansas State had a chance for more in the inning, moving two runners into scoring position with one out. However, DeGroat was summoned from the bullpen and proceeded to strike out the next two Wildcats to prevent further damage.

      Kansas State starting pitcher Parker Rigler (1-0) gave up two runs on four hits over the first five innings. He struck out four and walked four.

      Liberty outhit Kansas State, 8-6. Taormina and Grabowski each had two hits for the Flames. Taormina has collected two or more hits in six of Liberty's seven contests, this season.


      Up Next: The Flames travel to Elon, N.C., for a contest against the Elon Phoenix on Tuesday. First pitch at Latham Park is scheduled for 4 p.m.