No. 1 seed Liberty scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth, coming back for an 8-2 victory over fifth-seeded Gardner-Webb, in game four at the 2018 Big South Softball Championship, Thursday at Radford Softball Stadium.
With the win, Liberty's (45-12) 15th in a row, the Lady Flames advance to tomorrow's winner's bracket game against the winner of today's matchup between No. 2 seed Longwood and No. 3 seed Radford. Gardner-Webb (29-28) will face No. 4 seed Campbell in an elimination game at 5 p.m. Liberty has won all four meetings with Gardner-Webb this season, and is 5-0 all-time against the Runnin' Bulldogs in conference tournament play.
For the game, Liberty outhit Gardner-Webb, 11-9, while the Runnin' Bulldogs committed three errors. Liberty left 11 runners on base, while Gardner-Webb stranded eight.
Elizabeth Engler (8-2), pitching for the first time since April 21 versus CSU, earned the win while allowing one run on six hits, striking out two in five innings of relief. Julia DiMartino yielded one run on three hits in two innings pitched.
Sam Harrell (4-7) drew the loss, giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits, walking four in three innings of work. Ashley Wark allowed four runs on seven hits in three relief innings.
Autumn Bishop went 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and two runs scored, while Amber Bishop batted 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Sarah Robertson went 2-for-3 with two stolen bases and two RBI, and Taylor Hoffman batted 2-for-2.
Katie Prebble batted 2-for-3 with a homer, one RBI and one run scored. Andria Booth went 2-for-4 with one run scored.
Booth led off the game with a single to right center. After one out, Prebble singled to left before Kaylee Wacaster's single loaded the bases. DiMartino struck out Maddi Johnson, but then hit Rachel Cumiskey, giving the Runnin' Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. A popout by Annemarie Huffman ended the rally.
Liberty quickly responded in the bottom of the first, as Autumn Bishop launched a solo homer to straightaway center field. Amber Bishop followed with a left-field double. Harrell reduced the damage, getting the next three batters to ground out.
Engler came on relief of DiMartino with one on and one out in the top of the second. Booth stole second after two outs but Katie Stettler grounded to third for the last out.
Three walks gave Liberty a bases-loaded situation with two outs in the second. Amber Bishop fouled out to first base, keeping the score at 1-1.
Prebble's leadoff homer put Gardner-Webb back in the lead, 2-1, in the third frame.
Robertson sent a one-out single to right during the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, she stole second and went to third on a throwing error, but she was stranded when Madison Via grounded to third.
Liberty scored its most runs in a single inning this season, scoring seven times on seven hits in the bottom of the fourth. Liberty got RBI from Autumn Bishop, Amber Bishop (two-run double), Jaclyn Amader, Robertson (two-run single) and McFarland (RBI groundout). The Flames led, 8-2, after the seven-run surge.
Prebble led off the fifth with a single to left, but was doubled off of first as part of 6-3 double play. Wacaster lined out to third for the third out.
The Lady Flames loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth, before McFarland lined into an inning-ending double play.
Liberty turned a double play to end Gardner-Webb's sixth time at bat.
Via drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, and Hoffman followed by singling to left. A sacrifice bunt sent the runners to second and third, but Liberty was unable to push home any more runs.
Annemarie Warley doubled off the wall in center to start the final inning. After one out, Booth singled, putting runners on the corners. DiMartino came on in relief of Engler, getting a flyout before hitting Prebble to load the bases. Wacaster popped out to short, bringing the 8-2 Liberty win to a close.
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