D.J. Artis posted a three-hit game for the second straight game, Wednesday.
The South Carolina Gamecocks erased a Liberty lead with a six-run fifth inning and went on to topple the Flames, 10-7, Wednesday evening at Founders Park.
Visiting Liberty raced out to 6-1 lead after 4 1/2 innings, only to see South Carolina wipe out the Flames' advantage with six runs in home half of the fifth inning to take a lead it never relinquished.
Liberty rallied in the ninth, as the go-ahead run came to the plate to bat with one out and the bases loaded. However, Gamecock reliever Reed Scott retired the next two Flames to seal the win.
Liberty falls to 29-18 on the season. South Carolina moves to 29-19.
For the second consecutive night, Liberty center fielder D.J. Artis had three hits. The center fielder collected a double, a triple, a RBI and scored three times. His three-hit game was his ninth of the season. In addition, Artis, who entered the contest second in the nation in on base percentage, upped his OBP to .535.
Shortstop Cam Locklear had two hits, including his third home run of the year, for the Flames.
Liberty plated the first run of the contest in its opening at bat. Artis led off the game by lining a double into the right-center field gap. After moving to third on a fly out, left fielder Jake Barbee lifted a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Artis for a 1-0 edge.
The Flames extended their advantage with two in the second. Designated hitter Eric Grabowski opened the inning with a double into the left-center field gap and advanced to third on a ground out. Catcher Payton Scarbrough then scored Grabowski with a ground out for a 2-0 edge. Locklear followed with a home run into the visitors' bullpen in left-center field for a 3-0 lead.
Liberty again used an extra base hit off the bat of Artis to push across a run in the third. The Flames' center fielder led off the top of the inning with a triple into the right field corner and scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Trey McDyre, building a 4-0 advantage.
In the home half of the inning, South Carolina, who had been held without a hit by Liberty right-hander Zach Clinton, answered with a run of their own. With one out, first baseman Alex Destino walked and moved to second on the Gamecocks' first hit of the game, a single by right fielder Jacob Olson. After Flames' catcher Scarbrough dropped a foul ball, third baseman Jonah Bride walked, loading the bases. First baseman Riley Hogan followed with a sacrifice fly to make it, 4-1 Liberty.
In the top of the fifth, Liberty took its largest lead of the contest of five runs, only to see South Carolina erase it in the bottom of the inning. Locklear singled to begin the inning and steal second base. Two batters later, Artis collected his third hit of the evening, a single, to give the visitors a 5-1 advantage. McDyre then reached on a fielding error by Gamecock first baseman Hogan, before Barbee dumped a RBI single into left to give the Flames a five-run cushion at 6-1.
South Carolina batted around in the bottom of the fifth, scoring six runs on five hits to take the lead. The two big hits in the inning were home runs. With one out and a runner aboard, center fielder Danny Blair connected for the first home run of his career, cutting the Liberty advantage to 6-3. Later with two outs, designated hitter Alex Destino walked and Olson singled ahead of a run-scoring single by Bride to slice the Flames' edge to 6-4. Hogan followed with his second home run of the year, a three-run shot, to give the Gamecocks a 7-6 lead.
South Carolina extended its advantage to 10-6 on a two-run home run by left fielder Carlos Cortes in the sixth and RBI ground out in the seventh.
The Flames had the tying run to hit in the ninth. With one out, Liberty loaded the bases with two walks and a single by first baseman Sammy Taormina. Pinch hitter Dylan Allen walked to force in a run, before Gamecock right-hander Scott recorded the final two outs to close out the win and earn his third save.
Liberty right-hander Cody Gamble falls to 2-3. Coming on in relief of starter Clinton in the fifth, Gamble allowed two runs on two hits and walked a batter without retiring a batter.
South Carolina reliever Collie Bowers held the Flames scoreless over three-plus innings, running his record to 4-1 on the season. The right-hander struck out six and walked four.
The Gamecocks and Flames each had nine hits in the contest. Each team committed two errors apiece.
Up Next: Liberty will travel to Richmond, Va., for a three-game non-conference weekend series against the VCU Rams. The series gets underway at the Diamond on Friday at 6:30 p.m.