Cam Locklear had two hits and hit his first home run of the season, Sunday.
The Liberty Flames jumped out to an 11-3 lead and then held off a Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs rally, for an 11-10 victory, Sunday at John Henry Moss Stadium.
Third baseman Tyler Galazin hit his second home run of the season and shortstop Cam Locklear had two hits and belted his first home run for the Flames in the Big South Conference contest.
With the win, Liberty starts conference play at 2-1 and 11-8 overall. Gardner-Webb drops to 1-2 in the Big South and 12-9 overall.
Gardner-Webb took a 1-0 lead in the second. With two out, left fielder Mickey Dugan hit his second home run of the season to give the Runnin' Bulldogs an early edge.
Liberty answered in the top of the third, as the Flames took advantage of a Gardner-Webb error. Locklear singled with one out and advanced to second on a ground out to first base by center fielder D.J. Artis. Runnin' Bulldogs shortstop Taber Mongero then misplayed a ground ball by second baseman Trey McDyre, allowing the inning to continue. After McDyre stole second base to put both runners in scoring position, left fielder Tre Todd dropped a two-run single into center for a 2-1 edge.
The Flames added to their lead on fourth-inning home runs by Galazin and Locklear. With designated hitter Andrew Yacyk, who led off the inning with a walk, aboard, Galazin lined a home run over the left field wall, upping Liberty's advantage to 4-1. Two batters later, Locklear belted his home run over the left-center field wall, making it 5-1 visitors.
After being retired in order in the third and fourth by Flames starter Brady Stamper, the Runnin' Bulldogs cut into the Liberty advantage in the fifth. Dugan and center fielder Mason Fox opened the home half of the inning with back-to-back singles. Designated hitter Luke Kaesmeyer followed with a run-scoring single, trimming the Liberty lead to 5-2. Two batters later, Mongero plated another run with a fielder's choice grounder, slicing the Flames' edge to 5-3.
Liberty added to its lead in the sixth, benefitting again from another two-out Gardner-Webb error. With two outs, Galazin was hit by a pitch and catcher Matt Allen drew a base on balls. Locklear then chopped a ball down the third base line, which Runnin' Bulldogs third baseman Eric Jones fielded, but threw high to first, allowing Galazin to score and the inning to continue. Allen then came in to score on a balk by Gardner-Webb reliever Langdon Wilson, extending the Flames' advantage to 7-3.
In the top of the seventh, Liberty plated three more runs. With the bases loaded and two out, Allen belted a triple off the wall in right-center field, clearing the bases for a 10-3 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Gardner-Webb pushed two runs across to stay within striking distance. Three consecutive singles with one out plated the first Runnin' Bulldogs run. Two batters later, Dugan, who had three hits in the contests, singled with the bases loaded to make it, 10-5 Flames. However, the two runs were all the Bulldogs got in the inning, as Flames right-hander Zack Brockman entered and retired the next two hitters to end the scoring threat.
Liberty tacked on a run in the top of the eighth. Artis led off the inning with a double and scored on a RBI ground out by Todd, who drove in three runs, for an 11-5 lead.
Gardner-Webb rallied for five runs in the bottom of the inning, benefitting from two Flames' errors. Pinch hitter Pat Price and Mongero opened the home half of the eighth with singles. Right fielder Corey Howard then reached on an error by Liberty second baseman McDyre to load the bases and catcher Justin Kunz followed by lifting a sacrifice fly for the first run of the outburst. After Jones reached on an error by McDyre on a fielder's choice ground ball, scoring a run, first baseman Chandler Redmond hit his eighth home run of the year, bringing the Runnin' Bulldogs to within one at 11-10.
In the ninth, Liberty right-hander Mason Hand set down the Gardner-Webb in order, striking out the last two, sealing the victory and recording his second save of the year.
Liberty reliever Garret Price evens his record at 1-1. The right-hander pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Stamper. He struck out four and walked one.
Gardner-Webb starting pitcher Isaac Campbell drops to 2-2. He gave up five runs on five hits over four innings.
Liberty collected eight hits and committed two errors. Gardner-Webb had 13 hits and made two errors.
Up Next: Liberty travels to Fairfax, Va., for a contest at George Mason on Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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