Sammy Taormina hit two home runs and had a career-high six RBI in game one, Saturday.
Despite Liberty first baseman Sammy Taormina hitting two home runs and driving in six runs, the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs defeated the Flames, 10-8, Saturday in game one of a Big South doubleheader at John Henry Moss Stadium.
Taormina had three hits, including two home runs and a double to go along with a career-high six RBI in the contest. The first baseman hit two home runs in a game for the second time in 2017. He also hit two against UMBC on Feb. 24.
Liberty drops to 8-6 in Big South play and 22-15 overall. Gardner-Webb improves to 8-6 in the Big South and 19-19 overall. Entering the contest, Liberty had won the last six contests between the two teams.
Taormina gave the Flames a 2-0 advantage in the first. After left fielder Jake Barbee was hit by a pitch with two outs, the Liberty first baseman belted a 1-2 offering over the right field wall for an early two-run edge.
Liberty added to its lead with a run in the top of the second. The Flames loaded the bases with one out. Center fielder D.J. Artis followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring designated hitter Eric Grabowski, who opened the inning with a single, for a 3-0 advantage.
Gardner-Webb used five hits to tie the game in the bottom of the second. With three straight one-out singles, the Runnin' Bulldogs plated their first run of the contest. The third single of the string by center fielder Mason Fox made it, 3-1 Flames. Two batters later, shortstop Paul Trick's two-run single knotted the game at 3-3.
Liberty countered with a run in the third to take back the lead. Barbee led off the inning with a double into the right-center field gap. Taormina followed by lining a ball off the right-center field wall to score Barbee and put the Flames back in front at 4-3.
For the fourth-straight inning, head coach Scott Jackson's team plated a run in the fourth. Shortstop Cam Locklear opened the inning with a single back through the middle of the diamond and advanced to second when Artis walked. After moving to third on a fielder's choice ground ball by third baseman Trey McDyre, Locklear scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Taormina for a 5-3 advantage.
In the bottom of the fourth, Gardner-Webb struck for four runs to take the lead. Left fielder Chandler Redmond led off the home half of the frame with his ninth home run of the season to cut the Flames' edge to 5-4. Designated hitter Gage Parham singled and Fox walked, before Trick lined a one-out double down the left field line, scoring both runners for a 6-5 Gardner-Webb advantage. Second baseman Mickey Dugan followed with a RBI single for a 7-5 advantage.
Taormina reduced the Flames' deficit to one with his second home run of the game in the sixth. After Barbee reached on a fielding error by Bulldogs' third baseman Matt Simmons, Taormina blasted the first pitch of his at bat over the right field wall, slicing the Gardner-Webb edge to 8-7.
Liberty knotted the contest in the top of the seventh. With two out, Locklear singled through the right side of the infield and stole second. Artis followed by ripping an opposite field double into the left field corner to score Locklear to deadlock the contest at 8-8.
In the bottom of the seventh, Redmond hit his second home run of the game, a two-run home run, to give Gardner-Webb what proved to be the final score of 10-8.
Liberty reliever Cody Gamble falls to 1-2. The right-hander gave up two runs on two hits over two innings in relief of starter Caleb Evans. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Gardner-Webb reliever Jarrett Thompson moves to 3-0. He allowed one run on two hits over the final 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. The right-hander pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings to seal the win.
Gardner-Webb outhit Liberty, 14-10, in the contest.