Flames relievers Zach Clinton and Eric Grabowski turned in strong performances, keying a 4-3 Liberty victory over the Campbell Camels, Friday night at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Clinton entered with a man on first and two outs in the fifth and went on to hold Liberty's 4-3 lead over the next 1 2/3 innings, before turning it over to Grabowski, who pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings to close out the one-run victory. Clinton, who did not give up a hit, allowed only two runners, walking the first batter he faced in the fifth and hitting the leadoff batter in the seventh inning. Grabowski gave up one hit, en route to earning his first save of the year. Both pitchers struck out two batters each.
Liberty takes the first game of the three-game Big South series, improving to 13-6 in the Big South Conference and 27-16 overall. The Flames have won five out of their last six games.
Campbell drops to 6-10 in conference play and 20-24 overall.
Flames' starting pitcher Garret Price moves to 4-1. The right-hander pitched 5 2/3-plus innings, giving up three runs on nine hits. He struck out three and walked four.
Camels' starting pitcher Allan Winans falls to 3-5. The right-handed pitcher allowed four runs on six hit over six-plus innings. He struck out five and walked three batters.
Campbell jumped out to a 2-0 lead in its opening at bat. Third baseman Drew Butler led off the game with a walk and scored as left fielder Matthew Barefoot hit the first pitch he saw into the left field bullpen for his eighth home run of the season.
Liberty struck for three runs in the bottom of the second. Serving as the designated hitter, Grabowski opened the home half of the inning by ripping a triple into the right-center field gap. After catcher Payton Scarbrough was hit by a pitch with one out, shortstop Cam Locklear lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Grabowski for the Flames' first run of the contest. Right fielder Jack Morris followed with a double to center field to score Grabowski and when Camels center fielder Zach Minnick collided with Barefoot, losing the ball which allowed Morris to came all the way home to give Liberty a 3-2 edge.
The Flames extended their advantage in the third. Third baseman Trey McDyre led off the bottom of the inning with a single and advanced to second on a walk to left fielder Jake Barbee. After Winans hit Grabowski to load the bases with one out, second baseman Andrew Kowalo walked to force in a run for a 4-2 lead.
Campbell closed to within one in the sixth. First baseman Kevin Barron opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Adam Wyse. Two batters later, Butler dropped a one-out single into left field, scoring Barron to cut Liberty's lead to 4-3.
Clinton was then summoned from the pen and along with Grabowski silenced the Camels over the final 3 1/3 innings to seal the Flames' victory.
Liberty had eight hits, while Campbell collected 10. Each team committed an error.
Up Next: The same two teams will meet again tomorrow at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.