Liberty plates season-high for runs in 14-2 victory over High Point
The Liberty Flames overwhelmed the High Point Panthers, scoring a season-high 14 runs in a 14-2 win, Sunday at Liberty Baseball Stadium. With the win, the Flames take the Big South series, two games to one.
Liberty second baseman Andrew Kowalo had two hits, including a bases-loaded triple, and four RBI in the contest. The senior’s four RBI ties a career-high, as Kowalo also collected four RBI at High Point on May 20 of last season.
Freshman shortstop Cam Locklear also had two hits and tied a career-high with three RBI in the contest.
Liberty moves to 11-7 overall and 2-1 in Big South Conference play. High Point falls to 9-9 overall and 1-2 in conference.
The Flames, who plated runs during each of the first five innings, took a 1-0 lead in the first. Center fielder D.J. Artis, who had at least one hit in each game of the three-game series, doubled to lead off the bottom half of the frame. After advancing to third on a fly out, left fielder Jake Barbee knocked in Artis with a ground out for an early advantage.
In the top of the second, High Point benefited on a two-out Liberty error to score a run. With two away, catcher Spencer Brown reached on an error by Flames first baseman Sammy Taormina. After Brown moved to second on a single by third baseman Blake Schunk, shortstop Conner Dunbar single back through the diamond to score Brown and knot the game at 1-1.
In the bottom the inning, Liberty answered with two runs to go in front for good on the scoreboard. Taormina and McDyre each walked to open the inning and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Will Shepherd. Kowalo brought home Taromina with a sacrifice fly to give the Flames a 2-1 edge and Locklear followed with a RBI double for a 3-1 Liberty lead.
High Point cut into Liberty’s advantage with a run in the top of the third, only to see the Flames extended their lead back to two runs in the bottom of the inning. A sacrifice fly off the bat of designated hitter Zack Gray scored center fielder Josh Greene to cut the Panthers’ deficit to one at 3-2 in the top half of the frame.
Liberty struck for two in its half of the inning. Designated hitter Eric Grabowski singled to begin the bottom half of the frame and scored on a one-out double by catcher Matt Allen. Two batters later, third baseman Trey McDrye doubled to plate Allen and give the Flames a 5-2 lead.
Liberty cashed in a runner in the fourth and three in the fifth to take a commanding 9-2 advantage. In the fourth, Kowalo doubled and scored on a single by Artis. In the fifth, Kowalo cleared the bases with a one-out triple for a seven-run cushion.
The Flames added two more in the eighth on a double by Locklear and plated runs in the eight on a single by Taormina, a bases-loaded walked to defensive replacement Ben Highfill and pinch hitter Dylan Allen’s fielder’s choice grounder.
Liberty starting pitcher Jackson Bertsch gave up one run on six hits over the first four innings, before giving way to left-hander Vinnie Tarantola, who moves to 2-0 on the year with two scoreless innings of relief.
Bertsch, Tarantola, Cody Gamble and Jack DeGroat did not allow an extra base hit by the Panthers in the game.
High Point starter Trevor Holloway falls to 1-2. Holloway gave up six runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Liberty tied a season-high with 12 hits. The Flames have reached the total three times in 2017, all resulting in wins. Artis, McDyre and Taormina joined Locklear and Kowalo with two hits apiece in the contest. High Point collected seven hits.
Up Next: Liberty will close out its 11-game homestand by welcoming the James Madison Dukes at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.