Liberty catcher Casey Rasmus had two hits and two RBIs, Tuesday
For the first time this season, the Liberty Flames played extra innings, falling to the Virginia Tech Hokies, 9-6, in 10 innings in a non-conference game at Worthington Stadium, Tuesday.
Liberty drops to 12-10 overall and sees its three-game win streak come to a halt. Virginia Tech moves to 13-10 on the year. The Hokies snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory.
Virginia Tech pushed across the first run of the contest in the top of the second inning. Shortstop Tim Smalling led off the frame with a single and moved to second base on a ground out. Catcher Chad Morgan followed with a run-producing single, giving the Hokies grabbed a short-lived 1-0 advantage.
Liberty answered in the bottom of the inning, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five times. Designated hitter Justin Sizemore singled off of the first base bag and right fielder Michael Robertson walked to start off the home half of the second inning. After the third batter of the frame, first baseman Jeff Jefferson, walked to load the bases, second baseman Austin Taylor singled through the left side of the infield to tie the game at 1-1. Center fielder Ian Parmley then singled to left field to score Robertson, making it, 2-1 Flames.
After the next two batters were retired, left fielder Doug Bream was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force home the third run of the inning. Catcher Casey Rasmus followed by roping a two-run single into the left-center field gap, giving Liberty a 5-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, Smalling homered over the left-center field wall to cut the Liberty edge to 5-2. The round tripper was the fifth of the year for the Hokie shortstop.
The Flames got the run back in the bottom of the fifth inning, extending their lead once again to four, 6-2. With two outs, Robertson was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a single by Jefferson. When the ball got by left fielder Gabe Ortiz, Robertson motored home for a run.
Virginia Tech struck for four two-out runs in the eighth inning, knotting the game at 6-6. After second baseman Michael Seaborn and right fielder Chad Pinder each reached on infield singles to keep the inning alive for the Hokies, Morgan lifted his first home run of the season over the right-center field wall to slice the Liberty advantage to 6-5. Pinch hitter Matt Blow followed with walk and scored to tie the game two batters later on a single to left field by center fielder Tony Balisteri.
After the Hokies went down in order in the top of the ninth, Liberty moved a runner to third base, but could not cash him in. With two outs, Rasmus dropped an opposite field single into left field and moved to third on a stolen base and an throwing error by Morgan. However, Virginia Tech reliever Jake Joyce was able to strand the runner by getting the next Flame batter to fly out.
In the 10th, the visiting Hokies took the lead. Virginia Tech loaded the bases with one out, but Liberty reliever J.J. McLeod struck out the next Hokie. Third baseman Johnny Morales then lined a double off the left field wall to clear the bases for the final of 9-6.
Joyce retired the side in order in the bottom of the 10th to close out the Virginia Tech win.
McLeod, the third pitcher of the game for the Flames, gave up three runs on one hit over 2 1/3 innings, dropping to 0-1 on the season. He struck out one and walked three batters.
Joyce improves to 1-2 on the year. The sixth Hokie pitcher in the contest, the right-hander pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, striking out one.
Shortstop Matt Williams, Rasmus and Sizemore each had two of Liberty's 10 hits in the game. Balisteri, Ortiz, Pinder and Smalling had two hits apiece for the Virginia Tech. The Hokies had 13 hits in the contest.
Liberty hosts the Winthrop Eagles in the first contest of a three-game Big South series, Friday night. First pitch at Worthington Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.