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Flames Complete Sweep of Highlanders with 13-3 Victory, Sunday

April 9, 2017  Radford, Va.  RSS
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Andrew Kowalo

Andrew Kowalo

The Liberty Flames pounded out a season-high 19 hits on their way to a 13-3 win over the Radford Highlanders and a sweep of their three-game Big South series, Sunday at RU Baseball Stadium.

Liberty's 19 hits in the contest eclipsed its previous high of 14 in a 17-3 win at Charleston Southern on March 25 and allowed the Flames to sweep their first three-game series of 2017.

Right fielder Will Shepherd and second baseman Andrew Kowalo each hit a home run in the fourth inning. Shepherd opened the inning with his third home run of the season, while Kowalo hit his second career grand slam and his third round tripper of the year, later in the inning.

First baseman Sammy Taormina collected four hits, his first four-hit game of the year, and four RBI in the contest. Center fielder D.J. Artis and designated hitter Eric Grabowski joined Shepherd with three hits apiece in the victory.

Liberty moves its Big South record 7-2 and its overall record to 19-11. Radford falls to 3-6 in the conference and 13-18 overall.

Liberty took a 1-0 advantage in the top of third. With two outs, left fielder Jake Barbee, who threw out a Highlander at home plate trying to score to end the second inning, singled. After Barbee moving to second on a wild pitch, Taormina lined a single into right field to plate Barbee and give the Flames the lead.

Liberty sent 11 men to the plate and plated seven runs on six hits in the fourth. Shepherd led off the inning by belting a home run over the center field wall, the deepest part of RU Baseball Stadium, to give the Flames a 2-0 edge.

Catcher Matt Allen then reached on a wild pitch on a swinging strike three and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Cam Locklear. Artis followed with a run-scoring single for a 3-0 lead.

Later in the inning, Taormina singled with two-out to plate Artis for a 4-0 advantage. After Grabowski singled to load the bases, Kowalo ripped a 0-1 pitch from Radford reliever Cameron Fritz over the left field wall for grand slam and an 8-0 lead.

The Highlanders pushed two across in the bottom of the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by shortstop Danny Hrbek and catcher Jonathan Gonzalez to open the frame plated the first Radford run of the contest. Later in the inning, a two-out throwing error by Flames shortstop Locklear allowed Gonzalez to score and make it, 8-2 Liberty.

In the fifth, the Flames plate another run. With one out, Artis and third baseman Trey McDyre reached on back-to-back singles. After Artis stole third, Barbee knocked in Liberty's center fielder, upping Liberty's lead to 9-2.

Both teams scored in the seventh. The Flames tallied runs on a two-run double by Barbee and a RBI single by Taormina in the top of the inning. The Highlanders pushed across a run in the bottom of the frame for a 12-3 Liberty advantage.

Liberty starting pitcher Evan Mitchell gave up two runs, one earned, on nine hits over five-plus innings to run his record to 4-1 on the year. He struck out three and walked two.

Radford starter Kyle Zurak takes his first loss of 2017, falling to 3-1. The right-hander allowed six runs on nine hits over 3 2/3-plus innings. He struck out four and walked two.

The host Highlanders had 12 hits in the contest.

Up Next: Liberty travels to Harrisonburg, Va., for a non-conference contest with the James Madison Dukes, Tuesday. First pitch at Veterans Memorial Park is scheduled for 6 p.m.