Third baseman Tyler Galazin had three hits and four RBI and right-hander Jackson Bertsch provided a strong relief performance, helping to lift the Liberty Flames past the High Point Panthers, 8-3, Sunday afternoon at Coy O. Willard Stadium.
For the fourth time in his last seven games, Galazin collected three hits in the Big South contest, including his third home run of the season and a double. The third baseman drove in a career-high four runs and scored twice.
Bertsch entered the game in the third with two on and two out and went on to hold the Panthers in check over the final 6 1/3 innings to run his record to 3-2 on the year. The right-hander allowed one run on six hits during his relief stint. He struck out six and walked two.
Left fielder Tre Todd also hit his 10th home run of the season, his fifth home run in his last five Big South Conference games.
With the win, the Flames win the three-game Big South series, 2-1, and become the first team to take a conference series from High Point this season. Liberty raises its record to 12-6 in conference and 24-14 overall. High Point drops to 12-6 in Big South play and 21-18 overall.
Galazin gave Liberty a 2-0 lead in its first at bat. Against an infield shift with two outs, designated hitter Logan Mathieu reached on an infield single, before Galazin drove a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall for a two-run edge.
High Point knotted the contest in the second. Right fielder Carson Jackson opened the home half of the inning with a double and advanced to third on a single by left fielder Jordan Sergent. Designated hitter Tanner Wells followed with a sacrifice fly, halving the Flames' advantage to 2-1. Two batters later, shortstop Conner Dunbar lined a RBI double into the right-center gap to tie the game at 2-2.
After the Panthers left the bases loaded in the bottom of third, Liberty went back in front on the feet of center fielder D.J. Artis. With one out, Artis doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch by High Point relief pitcher Matt Hodges. Artis then scored on a wild pitch to give the Flames a 3-2 edge.
Liberty batted around in the sixth, opening a five-run differential on the scoreboard. Artis walked and Todd singled to begin the top of the inning. After Mathieu reached on a fielding error by Panther first baseman J.J. Woodard, Galazin lined a double off the top of the left field wall, plating two runs for a 5-2 edge. Two batters later, shortstop Cam Locklear lifted a sacrifice fly to bring home another run for a 6-2 advantage. Catcher Jonathan Embry, who also had three hits in the contest for the Flames, followed with a two-out, run-scoring single, upping the Liberty lead to 7-2.
In the bottom of the inning, High Point countered with a run. After being held in check by the Flames' Bertsch since the third, the first three Panthers to bat in the inning reached, pushing across a run. Sergent, the only batter to previously reach base since Bertsch entered the game in the third, walked and Wells singled to open the home half of the frame. Woodard followed with a single to plate Sergent to trim the Flames' advantage to 7-3.
However, that was all the Panthers got, as Bertsch worked out of the jam. After a fielder's choice for the first out of the inning, Bertsch hit center fielder Austen Zente to load the bases, before striking out third baseman Travis Holt and second baseman Hunter Lee to end the inning and the threat.
Todd made it 8-3 with a solo home run with two out in the ninth.
High Point's Harrison Smith falls to 0-4 on the season. The Panther starter gave up three runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Liberty outhit High Point, 14-11. High Point committed the only error of the game.
Up Next: Liberty wraps up a five-game road swing, Wednesday. The Flames will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. for a contest against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. First pitch at David F. Couch Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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