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Winthrop halts Liberty win streak, 5-3

libertyThe Winthrop Eagles halted the Liberty Flames’ four-game winning streak with a 5-3 victory, Thursday night at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

The Eagles plated four runs in the second and then kept the Flames from whittling away at their deficit to win the first game of the Big South series.

Liberty second baseman Andrew Kowalo hit his fourth home run in the contest.

The Flames drop to 7-3 in Big South Conference play and 20-12 overall. Winthrop moves to 6-4 in conference and 18-16 overall.

Winthrop staked itself to a 4-0 advantage in the second. Back-to-back doubles by catcher Babe Thomas and first baseman Tyler Halstead to lead off the inning, gave the Eagles a 1-0 edge. Second baseman Brandon Fite followed with a RBI single for a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning, designated hitter Grant English’s one-out single plated two more runs for a 4-0 advantage.

Liberty cut into the Winthrop lead during the third. Right fielder Will Shepherd reached on a fielding error by Eagle shortstop Mitch Spires to open the home half of the inning and moved to third on a single by catcher Matt Allen. Shortstop Cam Locklear followed with a single to score Shepherd for the Flames’ first run of the contest. Center fielder D.J. Artis then lifted a sacrifice fly to bring home Allen and halve the Winthrop advantage to 4-2.

Later in the inning, the Flames loaded the bases with two outs. However, Eagles starting pitcher Reece Green retired the next Liberty batter to hold the visitors’ two-run edge.

After coming on in the second, Liberty reliever Zach Clinton held Winthrop in check until the sixth. Eagles’ third baseman Tyler Musselwhite opened the inning with his second hit of the game, a single, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mulkey. Two batters later, left fielder Anthony Paulsen singled home Musselwhite for a 5-2 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Kowalo belted a solo home run with one out to cut the Eagles’ lead back to two at 5-3.

Liberty threatened in the eighth, but came away empty. First baseman Sammy Taormina, who had two hits in the contest, singled to open the frame and advanced to second, when designated hitter Eric Grabowski walked. Eagles reliever Dalton Whitaker then entered the contest and held the runners in place, retiring the next three batters to maintain the visitors’ lead.

Flames starting pitcher Caleb Evans falls to 5-3 on the year. The right-hander gave up four runs on six hits over 1 1/3-plus innings. He struck out one and walked one.

Liberty did receive solid relief efforts from Clinton and right-hander Zander Clouse. Clinton yielded one run on two hits over four innings of relief, while Clouse followed with 3 1/3 scoreless innings of work.

Green moves to 4-3 on the season for the Eagles. The right-hander allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked four.

Whitaker recorded his sixth save of the year with two scoreless innings of work.

Winthrop outhit Liberty, 11-6. Each team committed two errors.

Up Next: Winthrop and Liberty will meet again at Liberty Baseball Stadium, tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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