The Liberty Flames pounded out 16 hits and belted three home runs in an 18-8 victory over the High Point Panthers in a Big South contest, Friday evening at Coy O. Willard Stadium.
Five Flames collected multi-hit contests and three had multi-RBI games in the series opener between the two teams. Four Flames also scored three or more times, as Liberty plated a run in every inning, but two, the second and the ninth.
Catcher Tre Todd tied a career-high with four RBI and four runs scored, while tying a career-high with four hits. The Liberty catcher belted his ninth home run of the year, while designated hitter Logan Mathieu, who had three RBI, and right fielder Jonathan Embry, who scored four times, each hit their fourth home run of the season.
Liberty raises its Big South record to 11-5 and 23-13 overall. High Point drops to 11-5 in conference play and 20-17 overall. The Flames and Panthers are now tied for second in the Big South standings.
Right-hander Garret Price, who is 3-0 as a starting pitcher, had another strong outing. The sophomore ran his record to 6-2 on the year, giving up one run on seven hits over six innings of work. He struck out eight and walked four.
Liberty jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the first. With one out, Todd dumped a single into right field. Mathieu followed with a booming drive over the right center field wall and into the picnic area beyond the wall for a 2-0 advantage. Next batter, third baseman Tyler Galazin ended up on second on a fielding error by Panther third baseman Blake Schunk and scored on a triple by first baseman Dylan Allen for a 3-0 edge.
The Flames added a run in the third and two in the fourth. Against an infield shift, Todd led off the third with a bunt base hit along the third base line and promptly stole second. Two batters later, Galazin sent a one-out single back through the middle to plate Todd to give Liberty a 4-0 edge.
In the fourth, Embry opened the inning with a line drive over the right-center field wall for the Flames' first run of the frame. Center fielder D.J. Artis, who scored four times in the contest, followed with a double and advanced to third on a ground out by Todd. After Mathieu was hit by a pitch, Galazin, who had three hits and three RBI in the game, went the other way, singling through the right side of the infield to score Artis for a 6-0 cushion on the scoreboard.
Held scoreless through three, High Point broke through for its first run of the game. Right fielder Carson Jackson started the home half of the fourth with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Left fielder Jordan Segent followed with a run-scoring single to make it 6-1 Liberty lead. Price then settled in and worked out of the inning to maintain the Flames' five-run advantage.
Benefitting from three Panther errors in the fifth, Liberty batted around and took a commanding lead by plating five runs in the inning. Second baseman Trey McDrye led off the frame with a single and advanced to third when High Point pitcher Jacob Kates overthrew first on a bunt by Embry. After Artis walked, Todd singled home McDyre with the first run of the outburst. Two batters later, Galazin reached on a throwing error by Panther third baseman Schunk, allowing both Embry and Artis to score for a 9-1 advantage. Later with the bases loaded and two out, Todd and Galazin came home, when Schunk's throw on a grounder to third by shortstop Cam Locklear got away, pushing Liberty's lead to 11-1.
The Flames added a single runs in the sixth and four runs in the seventh. In the sixth, a leadoff double by Embry and a RBI single by Mathieu plated Liberty's 12th run. In the seventh, a sacrifice fly by McDyre and a three-run home run by Todd upped the Flames' ledger to 16-1.
Liberty plated two more in the top of the eighth, while High Point pushed across five in the bottom of the inning. The Panthers finished out the scoring with two runs on a bases-loaded walks in the ninth.
High Point starter Andrew Gottfried falls to 4-4. The right-hander was roughed up for six runs on eight hit, before being lifted after three innings. He struck out two and walked one.
The Panthers used six pitchers in the contest, while the Flames used five.
High Point had 13 hits and committed six errors. Liberty did not make an error.
Up Next: The Flames and Panthers will meet again in the second of the three-game series, tomorrow. Game time at Willard Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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