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#5 seed Liberty Eliminates #2 seed Winthrop to Advance to Title Contest in Game 10 of Big South Baseball Championship

May 27, 2006  Conway, S.C.  RSS
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#5 seed Liberty Eliminates #2 seed Winthrop to Advance to Title Contest in Game 10 of Big South Baseball Championship
Boosted by a three-run first and a four-run second, the #5 seed Liberty Flames jumped out a 7-1 lead which they never relinquished in eliminating the #2 seed Winthrop Eagles, 11-7, in Game 10 of the 2006 Bojangles Big South Baseball Championship at Watson Stadium.  The win secures a place for Liberty in the Big South Championship title contest this evening.
With the win, the #5 seed Liberty moves to 39-20 on the season and will play #6 seed UNC Asheville this evening with the winner becoming the Big South Champion and receiving an automatic bid to next week's NCAA Tournament.  Winthrop drops to  
The Flames jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the opening inning. Third baseman Chad Miller was hit by a pitch and second baseman Michael Just walked to lead off the frame.  After an out, left fielder Phillip Laurent doubled off the wall in center to chase both runners home for a 2-0 lead.  P.K. Keller then reached on a bunt single to move Laurent to third and shortstop Patrick Gaillard laid down a squeeze bunt to score Laurent for a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles got one back in the bottom of the inning as Heath Rollins hit a solo home run, his fourth of the season, to make it, 3-1, Liberty after one.
Liberty extended its lead by batting around in the second.  With one out, catcher Errol Hollinger and Miller both singled.  Just then reached on an infield single to load the bases.  Aaron Grijalva followed with a single up the middle to plate Hollinger for a 4-1 advantage.  The Flames lead grew to 5-1 as Laurent singled past the second baseman to score Miller.   Keller made it six straight singles in the inning to make it, 6-1, as Just crossed.  Grijalva plated the fifth run of the inning when designated hitter Derek Bennion was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for a 7-1 advantage.
Winthrop cut the lead to 7-3 in the third.  Shortstop Matt Repec and right fielder Phil Carey each singled with one out.  Tommy Lentz then reached on an error by the third baseman to load the bases. Designated hitter Ben Ehrlich scored Repec with a sacrifice fly, while pinch hitter Jake Shaffer provided a RBI single to score Carey.
The Eagles added two more runs in the fifth to close the gap to 7-5.  Lentz reached on an error by the shortstop and with two outs, scored ahead of catcher Alan Robbins fourth home run of the season.
The teams both plated a run in the sixth to make it, 8-6.  In the visitor half of the frame, Grijalva doubled to the left field corner opening the inning and moved to third on a single by Laurent.  The Liberty first baseman then scored on a double play.  In the home half of the frame, Rollins walked and later came across on a single by Lentz.
Winthrop tightened it to 8-7 with a single run in the eighth.  Jacob Dempsey opened the inning with a double down the right field line and later scored on a balk.  
A three-run ninth upped the Liberty advantage to 11-7.  The first three batters of the inning walked to load the bases with no outs.  Hollinger lofted a run-scoring sacrifice fly to make it, 9-7.  After an intentional walk to Miller, once again loaded the bases and a batter later a Just grounder scored Bennion and when the second baseman overthrew first base while trying to turn a double play, the other runner right fielder Phil John scored for an 11-7 advantage.
Liberty starter Tim John allowed six runs, two earned on nine hits in five innings to run his record to 7-3.  Billy Daniel earned his first save of the year allowing one run on four hits over four innings.   Ben Halligan, the first of seven pitchers for Winthrop, took the loss to fall to 1-1.