Clouse’s relief effort powers Liberty past William & Mary, 10-7

libertyPitcher Zander Clouse gave the Flames seven-plus innings of one-run relief and catcher Josh Latta collected a career-high three hits, as Liberty defeated the Tribe of William & Mary, 10-7, Wednesday at Plumeri Park.

Clouse entered the contest with the bases loaded, one-out and five runs already in during the first inning and went on to shut down the Tribe until the eighth inning, running his record to 3-1 on the season. He scattered seven hits and yielded one run during the longest relief outing of his career. Clouse struck out three batters and walked two.

Latta led all players in the game with three hits. The catcher had a double and drove in two runs. He also scored twice, a career-high.

Liberty third baseman Andrew Kowalo hit his fourth home run of the year, a three-run round tripper. He had two hits and tied a career-high with three RBI.

Liberty evens its record at 22-22 on the year. The win snaps the Flames’ three-game losing streak. William & Mary falls to 20-21. With their win, the Flames sweep the season series from the Tribe, 2-0.

Kowalo gave Liberty a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Second baseman Will Shepherd reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on a one-out infield single by left fielder Andrew Yacyk. Two batters later, Kowalo belted the first pitch he saw from Tribe starting pitcher Kinston Carson over the left field wall to stake the visitors to an early advantage.

In the bottom of the inning, William & Mary answered with six runs on one hit, as six batters walked in the frame. Left fielder Ryan Hall walked and scored on a triple by shortstop Kyle Wrighte. Wrighte then beat a throw to home plate on a fielder’s choice ground out by second baseman Cullen Large. The next batter, first baseman Charley Gould, walked and both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch Two batters later, a wild pitch allowed Large to score, knotting the contest at 3-3.

After a Flames pitching change, back-to-back one-out base loaded walks forced in two more runs to give the Tribe a 5-3 advantage. Clouse then took over on the mound for Liberty, retiring the next two batters. Hall upped the home team’s advantage to 6-3 with a sacrifice fly, before Clouse got Wrighte to fly out to end the inning.

Liberty knotted the contest in the top of the second, benefitting from a William & Mary throwing error. First baseman Sammy Taormina beat out an infield single and Latta singled back through the middle of the diamond to open the inning. Three batters later, a throwing error by Tribe shortstop Wright on a two-out grounder by Shepherd allowed two runs to score, trimming the home team’s lead to 6-5. Shepherd, who ended up on third base, then tied the game at 6-6, tallying a run on a wild pitch.

The Flames went back in front in the third, scoring for the third consecutive inning to start the game. Dalton Britt and Kowalo led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Liberty then loaded the bases, when Taormina drew a one-out walk. Latta followed with two-run double down the right field line, giving Liberty an 8-6 edge.

The Flames added to their lead in the fifth. Singles by designated hitter Austin Bream and Latta and a walk to right fielder Jack Morris loaded the bases with one out. D.J. Artis followed with a two-run single, upping the Liberty advantage to 10-6.

The Tribe pushed across a run in the seventh, after being handcuffed by Clouse over the previous 6 2/3 innings. Hall doubled and scored on a single by Wrighte for what proved to be the final score of 10-7.

Liberty right-hander Evan Mitchell recorded the first save of his career. The right-hander did not allow a run over the final 1 2/3 innings.

William & Mary starting pitcher Carson falls to 1-3 on the year. The left-hander allowed eight runs, five earned, on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.

Liberty and William & Mary each used five pitchers in the contest.

The Flames collected 13 hits in the contest. Artis, Britt, and Bream joined Kowalo with two hits apiece for Liberty. The Tribe recorded eight hits. Liberty committed one error, while William & Mary made two.

Liberty will take the next five days off, before hosting the No. 21 Virginia Cavaliers at Liberty Baseball Stadium, Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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