Keegan Linza struck out a career-high 10 batters in a 2-1, complete-game victory over Charleston Southern, Friday.
Right-hander Keegan Linza went the distance for the second consecutive start Friday evening, pitching the Liberty Flames past the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 2-1, at Worthington Stadium in the first Big South Conference contest of the year.
Winners of five of its last six contests, Liberty starts Big South action at 1-0 and improves to 10-9 overall on the year. Charleston Southern drops to 0-1 in conference play and falls to 10-9 overall.
After going the full nine innings in a 5-2 victory over Rutgers last Friday at the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C., Linza pitched his second complete game of the year, outdueling Buccaneer starter Stew Brase. The senior right-hander gave up a first-inning run, then shut down Charleston Southern the rest of the way to run his record to 4-0 on the season. Linza scattered eight hits over nine innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters and walking one. The right hander's 10 punchouts eclipse his previous career high of eight in an 11-2 win over Kennesaw State during his first appearance in a Liberty uniform on Feb. 20, 2010.
Meanwhile, Brase falls to 2-2 on the season. The Bucs right-hander also went the distance, allowing two runs on seven hits over eight innings. The senior struck out six batters and walked four. He retired the first six Flames to face him in the contest.
Charleston Southern pushed its lone run of the game across in the opening inning. With one out, third base Jaren Sustar singled and moved to third base on a single to right field by first baseman Nick Chinners. After the next batter lined out to right field, Sustar gave the Buccaneers a 1-0 lead by scoring on a wild pitch.
Held off the scoreboard by Brase through the first four frames, Liberty struck for a run in the bottom of the fifth to knot the game at 1-1. With two out and second baseman Zack Haley on second base, center fielder Ian Parmley ripped a single to left field, delivering Haley with the tying run.
The Flames plated the game-winning run in the seventh inning. Right fielder Michael Robertson led off with a single to right-center field. After the next batter popped out, Robertson swiped second and moved to third base on a bunt single by Parmley. Two batters later, third baseman Tyler Bream brought home Robertson with a bases-loaded, RBI ground out, giving Liberty a 2-1 lead.
It was all Linza needed. The right-hander retired the side in the eighth and allowed only Buccaneer left fielder Matt Still to reach on a single in the ninth in closing out the contest.
Parmley went 3-for-4 with a RBI to lead all hitters in the contest. Liberty catcher Casey Rasmus had two hits in the contest. Still, Sustar and catcher Blake Hunt had two hits apiece for Charleston Southern.
The Buccaneers and the Flames will meet again tomorrow afternoon in the middle game of their three-game Big South series. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Worthington Stadium.