Will Wagner hit his sixth home run of the season, Saturday.
Trailing 10-3 after seven innings, the Liberty Flames stormed back to move the tying run to third base in the ninth inning, but came up short, falling to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 10-9, Saturday afternoon at Swanson Stadium in the final regular season game of the year for both teams.
The Eagles jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and appeared be in control with two innings left, leading 10-3.
However, Liberty rallied, scoring four runs in the eighth inning, to close to within three runs and then in the ninth, plated three more to move to within one with the tying run at third base and two outs. But, Eagles reliever Hunter McGarry was able to retire the next batter, sealing the FGCU victory.
Six Flames had two hits each in the contest. Liberty second baseman Will Wagner was one of the six with two hits, including a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Left fielder Gray Betts also collected two hits, including a two-run single in the ninth inning and first baseman Logan Mathieu added two hits and drove in two runs with a two-out eighth-inning single.
Liberty completes its regular season with a 15-9 record in the ASUN play and 37-18 overall. Florida Gulf Coast finishes atop the ASUN regular season standings with a 16-7 mark and moves to 34-19 overall.
Box Score Highlights Records: Liberty (37-18, 15-9 ASUN); Florida Gulf Coast (34-19, 16-7 ASUN) Location: Fort Myers, Fla. (Swanson Stadium) Attendance: 202 WP: Evan Lumbert (6-2) | LP: Noah Skirrow (4-6)
Scoring Summary FGCU – 1st INNING – Garcia homers, 1-0 FGCU – 1st INNING – Hayes homers, 3-0 FGCU – 1st INNING – Townsend singles, Gonzalez scores, 4-0 FGCU – 1st INNING – Garcia walks, Gilmore scores, 5-0 LIBERTY – 4th INNING –Rohrer reaches on error by first baseman, Mathieu scores, 5-1 FGCU – 4th INNING – Hayes doubles, Brait scores, 6-1 FGCU – 4th INNING – Gonzalez flies out, Hayes scores, 7-1 FGCU – 4th INNING – Kinker homers, Stevens scores, 9-1 LIBERTY – 5th INNING – Wagner homers, Mathieu scores, 9-3 FGCU – 6th INNING – Gilmore flies out, Gonzalez scores, 10-3 LIBERTY – 8th INNING – Betts singles, Galazin scores, 10-4 LIBERTY – 8th INNING – Embry singles, Rohrer scores, 10-5 LIBERTY – 8th INNING – Mathieu singles, Embry and Betts score, 10-7 LIBERTY – 9th INNING – Betts singles, Highfill scores, 10-8 LIBERTY – 9th INNING – Embry grounds into a fielder's choice, Rohrer scores, 10-9
Notable Numbers - Liberty outhit Florida Gulf Coast in the contest, 14-13. The Eagles committed the only error of the game.
- Liberty left 12 men on base, including leaving the bases full in the third, fourth and sixth innings. FGCU left 10 men on base.
- Wagner records his team-leading 16th multi-hit game. His home run was the second baseman's sixth of the season.
- Liberty third baseman Tyler Galazin also had two hits in the contest, tying Wagner with 16 multi-hit games. The third baseman had two or more hits in each of the three games of the series. He had two hits, yesterday and collected three hits in Thursday's opener.
- Flames reliever Garret Price worked out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the eighth to keep the score at 10-7. Price struck out two batters and ended the scoring threat by getting Eagle shortstop Christian Profitt to fly out to right field.
- FGCU belted three home runs in the contest. Third baseman Richie Garcia hit his sixth home run of the season and right fielder Jay Hayes connected for his ninth in the first inning. Designated hitter Joe Kinker hit his seventh home run of the year in the fourth inning.
Turning Point After leaving the bases loaded in the third, the Flames again filled the bases against Eagles starting pitcher Evan Lumbert with two outs. Right fielder Brandon Rohrer's grounder to first base was misplayed, allowing first baseman Logan Mathieu to score the first Liberty run of the game. Center fielder Jaylen Guy was then hit by a pitch to again load the base, before Lumbert got left fielder Gray Betts to fly out to center field to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, FGCU batted around for the second time in the game to take a commanding 9-1 lead.
Beyond the Box Score - Liberty finishes the regular season second in the ASUN standings. The Flames will be the No. 2 seed for the ASUN Baseball Championship, starting on Wednesday in DeLand, Fla.
- With victory, Florida Gulf Coast claims its fifth ASUN Conference regular season title and the No. 1 seed for the ASUN Baseball Championship. The regular season title is its first since 2014.
- The Flames finish the regular season 8-3 in games decided by one run.
- Mathieu upped his RBI total to 48. The first baseman is second in the ASUN in RBI.
- Galazin has had at least one hit in each of his last nine games, eclipsing his previous career-high of eight. The third baseman posted an eight-game hitting streak three times during his Liberty career. He hit .573 during the three-game series.
- With a two hits and a walk in the contest, Betts extends his reached base streak to 30 consecutive games, the longest by a Flame this season.
Up Next With the regular season complete, Liberty heads to DeLand, Fla., for their first ever appearance in the ASUN Baseball Championship. The six-team, double-elimination tournament begins Wednesday. The Flames will be the No. 2 seed for the tournament and will face the No. 5 seed North Florida Ospreys at 3 p.m.