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Shepherd's 3-Hit Day Lifts Liberty to an 8-6 Win Over VCU

May 14, 2017  Richmond, Va.  RSS
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Will Shepherd hit his fourth home run of the season, Sunday.

Will Shepherd hit his fourth home run of the season, Sunday.

Liberty right fielder Will Shepherd hit his fourth home run of the season and drove in a season-high four runs, as the Flames topped the VCU Rams, 8-6, at the Diamond on Sunday afternoon.

Shepherd collected three hits and scored twice in the contest. The outfielder had two extra base hits, ripping a double to go along with his home run.

Liberty moves 30-19 on the season. VCU falls to 30-20. With the win, the Flames and Rams split their two-game weekend series after Friday's rainout.  

In addition, center fielder D.J. Artis led off the contest with his 53rd walk of the season to break his own Liberty record of 52, which he set last season. The sophomore entered the game second in the nation in bases on balls.

Both teams used home runs to get on the scoreboard in the second. After Liberty shortstop Cam Locklear drew a two-out walk in the top of the inning, Shepherd ripped a home run over the right-center field wall for a short-lived 2-0 edge.

In the bottom of the inning, VCU first baseman Darian Carpenter hit his 13th home run of the season and Brett Willet followed with his third of the year to open frame and tie the contest at 2-2.

The Flames plated two in the third, only to see the Rams answer with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. With two out in the top of the inning, Liberty first baseman Sammy Taormina reached on a throwing error by Rams' third baseman Daane Berezo. Grabowski followed with a home run over the left field wall for a 4-2 advantage.

In home half of the inning, VCU center fielder Logan Farrar doubled with one out and scored two batters later, on a double by second baseman Paul Witt. After a long foul out down the right field line by the next batter, Carpenter, allowed a run to score and knot the game at 4-4 on a sacrifice fly, a bunt by shortstop Zac Ching plated a run for a 5-4 Rams' lead.

VCU extended its advantage in the fifth, adding a run with a pair of two-out hits. Carpenter doubled and came around to score on a single by Ching for 6-4 edge.

Liberty fought back with two runs in the sixth to tie the contest. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo and catcher Payton Scarbrough led off the inning with walks. After Locklear advanced both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, Shepherd lined a run-scoring single into left field to slice the Flames' deficit to one. Artis followed with a RBI single back through the middle of the diamond to deadlock the contest at 6-6.

Liberty struck for the go-ahead run in the eighth. Scarbrough opened the inning with a single and Locklear moved pinch runner Jonathan Embry to second with a sacrifice bunt. Shepherd followed by lining a double off the wall, driving in his fourth run of the day and putting the Flames in front, 7-6.  Two batters later, third baseman Trey McDyre reached on an infield single to increase the lead to two runs, 8-6.

After allowing only one runner to reach since coming in at the bottom of the sixth, Liberty right-hander Jack DeGroat had to work his way out of trouble in the home half of the eighth. Chiang walked to begin the Rams' eighth, before VCU designated hitter Dylan Isquirdo and Farrar each singled with two outs to load the bases. However, DeGroat ended the threat by striking out left fielder Alex Gransback to hold the Flames' two-run cushion.

DeGroat did not allow a run over the final four innings to run his record to 1-2 on the season. The right-hander gave up three hits, striking out six and walking two.

VCU right-hander Jonathan Ebersole drops to 2-2. The reliever yielded two runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.

The Rams outhit the Flames, 11-9. VCU committed one error.

Up Next: Liberty will complete its five-game road trip by traveling to Durham, N.C., to square off with the Duke Blue Devils. Game time at Durham Bulls Athletic Park is schedule for 6 p.m.