Kennesaw State Downs Liberty 10-6 in ASUN Title Game
The No. 3 seed Kennesaw State Owls jumped out to an early lead and held off the No. 1 seed Liberty Flames 10-6 in the ASUN Championship game, Saturday afternoon at Swanson Stadium.
The Owls built a 5-0 advantage through the first four innings of play, only to see Liberty cut into their lead in the fifth with three runs on two home runs. In the bottom of the sixth, the Flames loaded the bases with one out but came away empty. Kennesaw State then pulled away for the victory.
Liberty third baseman Cameron Foster had two hits, including his sixth home run of the season in the contest. Catcher Gray Betts and right fielder Aaron Anderson also hit home runs for the Flames in the contest.
Liberty drops to 37-21 on the season. Kennesaw State moves to 35-26 and captures the ASUN’s automatic bid to an NCAA Regional.
Box Score Highlights
Records: Kennesaw State (35-26); Liberty (37-21)
Location: Fort Myers, Fla. (Swanson Stadium)
WP: John Bezdick (5-1) | LP: Trey Gibson (3-5)
1st INNING – KSU – Cash walks, Hatcher scores, 1-0
1st INNING – KSU – Young grounds into a double play, Simon scores, 2-0
3rd INNING – KSU – Simon homers, 3-0
4th INNING – KSU – Hassan singles, Hanson scores, 4-0
4th INNING – KSU – Colina flies, Eidson scores, 5-0
5th INNING – LIBERTY – Foster homers, Mathieu scores, 5-2
5th INNING – LIBERTY – Betts homers, 5-3
7th INNING – KSU – Young doubles, Simon scores, 6-3
7th INNING – KSU – Hanson doubles, Hatcher scores, 7-3
7th INNING – KSU – Eidson reaches on a fielding error, 8-3
8th INNING – KSU – Hanson scores on a fielding error, 9-3
8th INNING – KSU – Gossett scores on a wild pitch, 10-3
9th INNING – LIBERTY – Keeter flies out, Foster scores, 10-4
9th INNING – LIBERTY – Anderson homers, Gulakowski scores, 10-6
– Kennesaw State outhit Liberty, 13-7, in the contest.
– The Flames, who had committed one error in their previous four games in the ASUN Tournament, made three errors in the contest. The Owls did not commit an error.
– Left fielder Three Hillier had two hits, including a double in the contest for the Flames.
– Liberty starting pitcher Trey Gibson takes the loss. The right-hander gave up five runs on four hits over 3 1/3-plus innings. He struck out four and walked three.
– Flames reliever Dylan Cumming followed Gibson and pitched two scoreless innings, before running into trouble. He allowed three runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one.
– Kennesaw State pitcher John Bezdicek records the win. He allowed one run on two hits over four innings of relief. The second of three Owls to pitch in the game, he struck out three and walked two.
– Kennesaw State shortstop Tyler Simon led all hitters in the game with four hits. He had an RBI and scored three runs.
The Turning Point
In the bottom of the sixth inning and trailing 5-3, Liberty moved baserunners center fielder Derek Orndorff and left fielder Three Hillier into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Stephen Hill. First baseman Logan Mathieu then walked to load the bases with one out. However, Kennesaw State pitcher Joh Bedzicek struck out the next two Flames to hold the score and end the inning.
The Owls pulled away with three two-out runs in their next at bat, the seventh inning on their way to the victory.
Beyond the Box Score
– Liberty has played in the ASUN Conference title game in each of its three seasons in the conference, winning it in 2019.
– Kennesaw State wins its first ASUN title since 2014 and claims the conference’s automatic bid to an NCAA Regional.
– Liberty and Kennesaw State split their eight meetings in 2020, 4-4. The Flames downed the Owls in Pool A 12-6 on Wednesday.
– Flames Hillier, Foster, first baseman Logan Mathieu and designated hitter Brady Gulakowski were named to the ASUN All-Tournament team. Kennesaw State center fielder Josh Hatcher was named the ASUN Tournament MVP.
The Flames will now wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to a 2022 NCAA Regional on Monday. The NCAA selection show will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at Noon.