Tyler Bream had two hits and a RBI, Friday.
Despite four hits from Ian Parmley in his Liberty debut, the host Mercer Bears rallied for a 6-4, come-from-behind win over the Liberty Flames, Friday afternoon at Claude Smith Field. The game was the 2011 season opener for both teams.
Parmley, the Liberty leadoff hitter, went 4-for-5 in his first game in a Flames uniform. The junior designated hitter also stole two bases and scored Liberty's first run of the year in the contest.
Liberty drops to 0-1 on the year, while Mercer begins its 2011 campaign at 1-0. The Flames move to 2-2 under head coach Jim Toman in season openers and 24-12 since 1976.
The Flames struck for three runs on three hits and benefitted from two Mercer errors in their first at bat of 2011. Parmley reached on a bunt single to lead off the first inning and moved into scoring position by stealing second base. Second baseman Zack Haley followed by lining a RBI single into left field to cash in the runner for a quick 1-0 advantage. After Haley moved to second base on a ground out and to third base on an infield single by left fielder Doug Bream, third baseman Tyler Bream lifted a sacrifice fly to plate him with the second Liberty run. Catcher Casey Rasmus followed with an unexpected two-out bunt, which Bear starting pitcher Matt McCall threw by the first base bag and down the right field line, allowing Doug Bream to score all the way from first base and stake Liberty to a 3-0 lead.
Liberty added to its lead with a single tally in the top of the fourth inning. Tyler Bream and Rasmus opened the frame with back-to-back singles. With runners on the corners and no one out, right fielder Michael Robertson bounced a RBI grounder to second, extending the Flame advantage to 4-0.
Mercer countered the Liberty run in the top of the frame, with four runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the contest. Designated hitter Travis Benn began the uprising with a double to bottom of the wall in right center field. After a line out and walk to first baseman Matthew Black, left fielder Derrick Workman lined a double into the left field corner, plating Benn with the Bears' first run of the game. After catcher Jason Butts followed with a RBI sacrifice fly to make it, 4-2, back-to-back run-scoring, two-out doubles by second baseman D.J. Johnson and center fielder Billy Burns to knot the game at 4-4.
Liberty threatened in the eighth inning, as the first two hitters of the frame, shortstop Matt Williams and Doug Bream, reached on singles off Mercer reliever David Randall. However, right-hander David Teasley was summoned from the bullpen and retired the next three batters to keep the Flames from breaking the tie.
In the bottom of the inning, Mercer took its first lead of the contest. Third baseman Jacob Tanis walked to open the home half of the eighth and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Joe Winkler. Right fielder Thomas Carroll followed with a run-scoring single through the right side to put the Bears on top, 5-4. Later in the frame, Butts grounded out with the bases loaded, adding an insurance run for the final score of 6-4.
Starter Steven Evans went the first six innings for the Flames, giving up four runs on seven hits. The senior left-hander struck out four hitters and walked one. Reliever Patrick Eckelbarger, the fourth of five Liberty pitchers, takes the loss to fall to 0-1. The right-hander allowed two runs on two hits and walked two batters in 2/3 innings.
Teasley, the third Mercer pitcher, picks up the victory to start 2011 at 1-0. The right-hander yield one hit and struck out three hitters in two innings of relief, with all three strikeouts coming during Liberty's final at-bat in the top of the ninth.
Besides Parmley, Tyler and Doug Bream each had two hits of the Flames' 11 hits in the contest. Burns had two of the 10 Bear hits in the game.
Liberty and Mercer will meet again tomorrow in a doubleheader at Claude Smith Field. The first game of the twinbill is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.