Liberty Advances to ASUN Title Game with an 18-9 Win over Eastern Kentucky
The No. 1 seed Liberty Flames routed the No. 6 Eastern Kentucky Colonels, 18-9, to advance to the ASUN Conference Championship game, Friday afternoon at Swanson Stadium.
After the Colonels tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the fifth inning, Liberty plated three in the bottom of the inning to take an 8-5 lead and then struck for 10 runs in the sixth for a commanding advantage.
Liberty belted five home runs in the contest. Left fielder Three Hillier had two in the contest, while Logan Mathieu hit a grand slam, and Cameron Foster and Derek Orndorff also connected on round trippers for the Flames.
Liberty catcher Gray Betts had a game-high four hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Hillier and Mathieu each added three hits apiece. Mathieu also tripled and knocked in a game-high five runs, while Hillier collected four RBI.
The Flames move to 37-20 on the season and are unbeaten in the tournament with a 4-0 mark. The Colonels’ season comes to end with a 38-20 record.
Box Score Highlights
Records: Eastern Kentucky (38-20); Liberty (37-20)
Location: Fort Myers, Fla. (Swanson Stadium)
WP: Mason Fluharty (7-3) | LP: Bryce Travis (2-2)
2nd INNING – EKU – Ludwick singles, King scores, 1-0
2nd INNING – EKU – Franklin doubles, Davis scores, 2-0
2nd INNING – EKU – Williams reaches on an error, Ludwick scores, 3-0
2nd INNING – LIBERTY – Hillier homers, 3-1
3rd INNING – EKU – Davis flies out, Thomason scores, 4-1
3rd INNING – LIBERTY – Hillier homers, 4-3
4th INNING – LIBERTY – Keeter singles, Mathieu scores, 4-4
4th INNNIG – LIBERTY – Betts singles, Gulakowski scores, 5-4
5th INNING – EKU – King homers, 5-5
5th INNING – LIBERTY – Mathieu triples, Hillier scores (unearned), 6-5
5th INNING – LIBERTY – Foster homers, Mathieu scores, 8-5
6th INNING – LIBERTY – Hillier walks, Betts scores, 9-5
6th INNING – LIBERTY – Hill singles, Anderson scores, 10-5
6th INNING – LIBERTY – Mathieu homers, Hill, Hillier and Orndorff score, 14-5
6th INNING – LIBERTY – Anderson flies out, Gulakowski scores, 15-5
6th INNING – LIBERTY – Orndorff homers, Betts and Keeter score, 18-5
7th INNING – EKU – Franklin reaches on an error, King scores, 18-6
7th INNING – EKU – Jones doubles, Bell (unearned) and Ludwick, 18-8
9th INNING – EKU – Jones doubles, Montes scores, 18-9
– Liberty outhit Eastern Kentucky, 18-15. The Flames made one error, while the Colonels committed two.
– Liberty left nine men on base. Eastern Kentucky left 12.
– The Flames were 10-18 (.556) with runners in scoring position.
– Flames shortstop Stephen Hill and second baseman Nathan Keeter each had two hits apiece.
– Reliever Mason Fluharty records the win. The left-hander came in relief of starter Joe Adametz and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and struck out four.
– Bryce Travis, the second of eight Eastern Kentucky pitchers in the contest, takes the loss. He gave up three runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two.
– The Colonels used four pitchers as the Flames scored 10 runs on nine hits in the sixth.
– Eastern Kentucky catcher Will King had four hits, an RBI and three runs scored in the contest.
The Turning Point
After King tied the game in the top of the fifth with a solo home run, Liberty answered right back in the bottom of the fifth. Hillier reached on a fielding error and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hill. Mathieu then ripped a towering drive off the left field wall for a triple to score Hillier for a 6-5 advantage. Foster followed by ambushing the first pitch and blasting a two-run home run for an 8-5 lead.
Fluharty pitched a scoreless top of the sixth, working around an infield single and a walk to set up Liberty’s 10-run outburst in the bottom of the innings.
Beyond the Box Score
– Liberty has made the ASUN Conference title game in each of its three seasons in the conference, winning it all in 2019.
– The Flames scored 10 runs in the sixth inning. It is the first time Liberty has plated 10 or more runs in a game since a 12-6 win over Bellarmine at Worthington Field at Liberty Baseball Stadium on May 22, 2021.
– Liberty hit four or more home runs in a game for the third time this season. It is the second time in 2022 that the Flames have belted five or more at Swanson Stadium. Liberty hit a season-high six in a 23-3 win over FGCU at Swanson Stadium on May 14.
– The last time Liberty hit five home runs in a contest was March 29, 2009, in a win over Presbyterian in Lynchburg.
– Hillier hits two home runs in a game for the first time in his career. The outfielder also tallied his 15th multiple-hit contest.
– With four hits, Betts records his 19th multi-hit game of the year.
– Adametz III struck out a career-high in the contest. The junior left-hander’s previous high was eight which he did twice this season. Once in an 8-0 win at Stetson on May 1 and a 2-1 victory over Jacksonville on May 8.
No. 1 seed Liberty will face the winner of the second semifinal between No. 3 seed Kennesaw State and No. 2 seed Lipscomb later this afternoon in the ASUN title game. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Swanson Stadium.