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Liberty Tops Radford in Home Opener

February 19, 2020  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Coach Jackson Press Conference

Mason Hand Press Conference

Ben Highfill Press Conference

Top Plays vs. Radford

The Liberty Flames downed the Radford Highlanders 4-2 in the Flames' home opener, Wednesday at Worthington Field at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

Liberty struck for four runs during the first two innings and received a solid start by right-hander Mason Hand in the victory.

Third baseman Ben Highfill powered the Flames, knocking in three runs with two hits.

Liberty improves 1-3 on the season. Radford drops to 3-1.

Box Score Highlights
Radford (3-1); Liberty (1-3)
Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Worthington Field at Liberty Baseball Stadium)
Attendance: 1,535
WP: Mason Hand (1-0)  | LP: Hunter Williams (0-1) | SV: Landon Riley (1)

Scoring Summary
LIBERTY – 1st INNING – Highfill singles, Wilkinson scores, 1-0
LIBERTY – 2nd INNING – Betts singles, McDyre scores, 2-0
LIBERTY – 2nd INNING – Highfill singles, Betts and Baughman score, 4-0
RADFORD – 6th INNING – Harless grounds out, Matheny scores, 4-1
RADFORD – 7th INNING – Cheely grounds into a fielder's choice, Galati scores, 4-2

Notable Numbers
- Liberty outhit Radford, 8-3, in the contest. The Flames committed the game's only error.

- Making his first start of the season, Hand pitched five scoreless innings to record the victory. The redshirt sophomore allowed two hits, striking out three and walking two.

- Right-hander Landon Riley earned his first save of 2020 with 1 1/3 innings of relief. He struck out two and walked one.

- Highfill records back-to-back, multiple-RBI games with his three RBI in the game. The senior drove in two runs on Sunday at Clemson with a home run.

- Flames catcher Brady Gulakowski and designated hitter Garrett Wilkinson also had two hits apiece in the contest.

Turning Point
With the Flames leading 4-0 in the top of the fifth, Radford threatened to break through against Hand by putting two men on with two outs. On a single to left field by the next batter, shortstop Colby Higgerson, Highlanders first baseman Tanner Barras attempted to score from second base. However, Liberty left fielder Gray Betts threw out Barras at home plate to keep Radford scoreless and end the inning.

Beyond the Box Score
- Today's contest started a nine-game homestand for the Flames, their longest of the 2020 season. In addition, Liberty will play 12 of its next 13 contests at home.

- Liberty and Radford met for the 107th time on the diamond, Wednesday. The Flames have faced the Highlanders more often than any other team in program history.

- Hand made his first start since April 25, 2018 at Wake Forest, this afternoon. The right-hander has returned to the mound after sitting out last season due to injury.

- Gulakowski recorded his second multi-hit game of the season, Wednesday.

- Flames reliever Garret Price made the 76th appearance of his career in the contest, tying him for fifth all-time in program history with Dane Beakler (2006-08, 10-11) and Tim Bickers (1993-96).

- Liberty opened its eighth season at Worthington Field at Liberty Baseball Stadium, Wednesday. Last season, the Flames posted a 25-5 record, their best mark at the facility in its history.

Up Next
Liberty will open a three-game weekend series with the Seton Hall Pirates at Worthington Field at Liberty Baseball Stadium on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.