The visiting Radford Highlanders eked out a 5-4 victory in 11 innings over the Liberty Flames, Tuesday evening at Liberty Baseball Stadium. The wild midweek game was a non-conference contest between the two Big South foes.
After the visiting Highlanders scored four unanswered runs and took the lead in the eighth, the Flames tied the contest at 4-4 on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth to send the contest to extra innings.
In the 11th inning, Radford benefited from a Liberty miscue to go in front. First baseman Spencer Horwitz struck out swinging, but reached on a passed ball. Two batters later, right fielder David Laird doubled home Horwitz with what proved to be the winning run and the final score of 5-4.
Liberty falls to 16-11 overall. Radford moves to 13-15 on the year. The contest was the first of four games between the two teams, this week. The Flames will visit Radford for a three-game Big South Conference series, starting Friday.
Liberty staked itself to a 2-0 advantage in the second inning. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo singled to lead off the bottom of the second and scored on a two-out triple by right fielder Jack Morris. Center fielder D.J. Artis walked to continue the inning and stole second. Third baseman Trey McDyre followed with a run-scoring single a two-run Flames' lead.
Liberty pushed across another run in the third. With one out, first baseman Sammy Taormina walked and moved to second on Kowalo's second hit of the game, a single. Two batters later, shortstop Cam Locklear drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Highlanders reliever Ryan Sande then issued a walk to Morris, forcing in a run and upping the Flames' advantage to 3-0.
After being held scoreless by Liberty right-hander Jackson Bertsch over the first five innings, Radford broke through for two runs in the sixth. With one away, designated hitter Cody Schneider singled and moved to third, when left fielder Adam Whitacre's fly ball was lost in the lights and dropped in for a single. Right fielder Luke Wise followed with a RBI single for the first Highlander run of the contest, and a sacrifice fly by second baseman Kyle Butler cut the Liberty lead to one at 3-2.
In the seventh, Radford tied the contest. Catcher Jonathan Gonzalez led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a ground out by Horwitz. After moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Mike Roth, Gonzalez scored on a single by Laird to knot the score at 3-3.
The Highlanders took their first lead of the game in the top of the eighth. With one out, Wise reached on a bunt single and moved to second on a two-out walk to Butler. After a Liberty pitching change, Gonzalez double off the left field wall, plating Wise for a 4-3 advantage.
The Flames tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. Taormina ended up on third, after Highlanders left fielder Whitacre dropped his fly ball to left to open the frame. Radford reliever Cameron Fritz battled back, retiring the next two batters, before allowing pinch runner Jonathan Embry to come home on a wild pitch to tie the contest at 4-4.
The sixth Liberty pitcher of the contest, Zach Clinton, falls to 1-1 on the year. The right-hander gave up an unearned on one hit over 2 1/3 innings of work. He struck out five, a career-high, and did not walk a batter.
Mack Krupp, the fifth Highlander pitcher in the game, moves to 1-0. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out one.
Radford outhit Liberty, 9-7. Gonzalez had three hits in the contest for the Highlanders.
Liberty left 15 men on base, while Radford left seven.
Up Next: The Flames head to Radford, Va., for a three-game weekend Big South series with the Highlanders. First pitch at RU Baseball Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Friday.