Liberty shortstop Matt Williams
Shortstop Matt Williams drove in five runs with four hits, including one a home run, as the Liberty Flames cranked out a season-high for runs in a 16-7 victory over the Winthrop Eagles in the final game of a three-game Big South series, Saturday at Worthington Stadium.
With the win, Liberty moves to 5-1 in the Big South standings and 14-11 overall. Winthrop falls to 3-3 in conference play and 10-13 overall.
In the contest, the Flames scored a season-high 16 runs, eclipsing their previous high in a 12-2 win over Binghamton on March 4. In addition, Liberty tied their season-high for hits in a contest with 20. Every member of the Liberty batting order had at least one hit in the contest.
The Flames led from start to finish, posting a run in the first inning. With one out, catcher Casey Rasmus beat out a bunt single and stole second base. After advancing to third base on the first hit of the day for Williams, an infield single, left fielder Doug Bream lined a double down the right field line to score the Liberty catcher for a 1-0 advantage.
The Flames extended their lead in the fourth inning. Third baseman Tyler Bream reached second on a throwing error by third baseman Matt Pierpont on a grounder to open the frame. First baseman Jeff Jefferson delivered Bream with a two-out single, upping the Liberty advantage to 2-0.
In the fifth, the Flames seemed to take control of the contest, sending 10 men to the plate in the inning to score seven runs with six hits. After both center fielder Ian Parmley and Rasmus had reached to begin the stanza and moved into scoring position, Williams dumped a RBI single into center field for the first two runs of the uprising. Doug Bream followed with a run-producing single and Liberty had a 5-0 lead.
Two batters later, Jefferson ripped a single into left field to plate another run. The next batter, second baseman Austin Taylor then blasted his third home run of the year with two men aboard, giving the Flames a 9-0 advantage.
Liberty followed its outburst in the fifth inning, with three more in the sixth. Williams got things started in the home half of the sixth by ripping a one-out home run over the left-center field wall. Two batters later, Tyler Bream began a string of three consecutive doubles. Right fielder Michael Robertson followed with a double and scored on a double by the next Flame batter, designated hitter Marcus Grimaldi to make it, 12-0.
Winthrop rallied in the top of the seventh inning with a seven-run uprising of its own. With the two men aboard and one out, Pierpont got the scoring started for the Eagles with a RBI single to left field. Two batters later, shortstop Adam Gliebe and center fielder Cam Walters each hit two-out singles to plate two more runs. Second baseman Tyler Cook followed with a two-run single, slicing the Liberty advantage to 12-4. Left fielder Chas Crane continued the inning with a run-producing single and catcher Eddie Rohan capped the frame with a double to the warning track in center field to make it, 12-7 Liberty.
It was as close as the Eagles got on the afternoon. Liberty answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the seventh. With both Parmley and Rasmus in scoring position at second and third with no one out, Williams split the right-center field gap with a double to chase home both runners, stretching the Flames' advantage to 14-7.
Liberty tacked on two more in the eighth inning for the final score of 16-7. Robertson led off the frame with a triple and scored on a RBI single by Jefferson. Taylor followed with a single to score Jefferson.
Steven Evans was the beneficiary of the Liberty scoring outburst, evening his record at 3-3 on the year. The senior left-hander allowed one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six batters and walked three.
Matteo D'Angelo falls to 2-4 on the season. The Eagle right-hander gave up six runs on seven hits. He struck out four batters and walked one.
Besides Williams, Robertson and Jefferson each had three hits in the contest. Jefferson also scored twice and drove in three runs. Taylor had four RBIs for the Flames.
Crane and Rohan had two hits apiece for Winthrop, which had 10 hits in the game.
Liberty steps out of conference by traveling to Richmond, Va., for a contest with the VCU Rams on Tuesday at the Diamond. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.