Winthrop tops Liberty in pitchers’ duel

liberty baseballThe Winthrop Eagles scored the game’s only runs in the third inning, downing the Liberty Flames, 2-0, Thursday evening at the Winthrop Ballpark.

The Flames mounted scoring threats in the fourth, eighth and ninth, but were turned away each time in the Big South contest.

Liberty falls to 15-10 in Big South play and 27-24 overall. It is only the second time this season that the Flames have been shut out. Winthrop ties the Flames in the conference standings with a 15-10 mark and raises its overall record to 24-27.

Winthrop plated the contest’s only runs in the bottom of the third. With one out, center fielder Scout McFalls lined a double into right-center field gap and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After shortstop Mitch Spires walked with two outs, the Eagles executed a double steal with McFalls scoring for a 1-0 advantage. First baseman Tyler Halstead followed with single to plate Spires for the 2-0 lead.

Liberty loaded the bases in the top of the fourth with one out, but came away empty. Catcher Tre Todd doubled and third baseman Tyler Galazin and Jonathan Embry walked with one out. However, Eagle right-hander Nate Pawelczyk retired the next two batters on fly outs to keep the Flames off the scoreboard and end the inning.

In the top of the eighth, the Flames advanced two batters into scoring position with two outs, but were unable to break through. With one out, center fielder D.J. Artis singled. Two batters later, Galazin, who had two hits in the contest, singled with two outs, moving Artis to third. Galazin advanced to second on the throw from the outfield. Embry followed by ripping a line drive right at Winthrop second baseman Brandon Fite, who caught it for the final out of the inning.

Liberty brought the go-ahead run to the plate to hit in the ninth, but its rally fell short. First baseman Dylan Allen walked with one out and two batters later, moved to third on a two-out single by right fielder Brandon Rohrer. However, Winthrop reliever Dalton Whitaker struck out second baseman Trey McDyre to close out the contest.

Liberty starter Zach Clinton drops to 6-4 on the season. The right-hander pitched the first five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out two and walked two.

Jackson Bertsch followed. He pitched three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, striking out four and did not walk a batter.

Winthrop reliever Jason Crumley moves to 2-1 on the season. In relief of starter Nate Pawelczyk, he did not allow a run over four scoreless innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Whitaker gave up on hit. He struck out two and walked one.

Liberty collected six hits and committed the game’s lone error. Winthrop had five hits.

Up Next: Liberty and Winthrop will meet again, tomorrow at Winthrop Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.