Evans goes distance as Liberty powers past High Point
In the Big South Conference opening contest for both squads, Evans yielded one run on five hits over the full nine innings to move to 3-2 on the season. He gave up two hits and did not allow a Panthers’ runner past second base during the first eight innings. The right-hander struck out 10 and walked one. It is the second time this season that Evans has struck out 10 or more in a contest.
Center fielder D.J. Artis and right fielder Will Shepherd backed Evans’ effort by hitting their first home run of the season. Artis belted his first grand slam of his career into the right field bullpen in the sixth, while Shepherd lined a three-run home run into the left field bullpen in the fourth inning.
Flames designated hitter Eric Grabowski tied a career-high for hits, going 3-for-4 in the contest with two doubles. He scored twice.
Liberty moves to 10-6 overall and 1-0 in the Big South. High Point drops to 8-8 on the year and begins conference play at 0-1.
Evans and Panthers’ starter Andrew Gottfried combined to allow only one runner to reach base through the first three innings. Liberty shortstop Cam Locklear doubled for the contest’s first hit in the bottom of third.
Liberty staked itself to a 4-0 advantage in the fourth. Grabowski led off the home half of the inning with a double off the left field wall and moved to third after Gottfried’s errant pickoff throw sailed into center field. Two batters later, catcher Matt Allen brought home Grabowski with a ground out for a 1-0 edge. With two outs, third baseman Trey McDyre and left fielder Jake Barbee reached on back-to-back singles and scored on Shepherd’s blast over the left field wall for a 4-0 lead.
In the sixth, Liberty extended its advantage. The Flames sent 11 men to plate in the inning, scoring six runs on five hits. Allen walked to open the bottom of the half of the inning. Barbee followed with a triple into the left-center field gap for a 5-0 advantage.
Shepherd and second baseman Andrew Kowalo then each drew a walk to load bases. Two batters later, Artis ripped a two-out home run, clearing the bases and pushing the Liberty lead to 9-0. Grabowski followed with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by High Point third baseman Blake Schunk. First baseman Sammy Taormina then produce a run with a single for a 10-0 advantage.
Liberty added a run in the seventh. Barbee drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double by Kowalo.
High Point spoiled the shutout in the ninth. Left fielder Austen Zente led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a single by designated hitter Zack Gray.
Panthers starting pitcher Gottfried falls to 1-1 on the season. The Flames roughed up the right-hander for seven runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Liberty tied a season-high with 12 hits in the contest. High Point committed three errors.
Up Next: The Flames and Panthers will meet again, tomorrow. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m.