Liberty blasts Virginia Tech, 22-7

libertyThe Liberty Flames scored a season-high 22 runs and had a season-high 24 hits in a 22-7 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies, Tuesday evening at English Field.

The win is the Flames’ fifth straight victory, their longest streak of the season.

Eight of the nine hitters in the Liberty lineup had two or more hits in the contest.

Liberty left fielder Andrew Yacyk and right fielder Will Shepherd each had four hits in the game, tying their career-high.

Shepherd also had a career-high five RBI. Two of his four hits were doubles. Meanwhile, Yacyk hit his team-leading fourth home run and doubled, driving in four runs.

Center fielder D.J. Artis and shortstop Dalton Britt had three hits apiece for the Flames. Artis posted his ninth multiple-hit game this season. The Flames’ leadoff man doubled, scored three times and drove in two runs. Britt hit his first home run of the year, had two doubles and drove in four runs.

Catcher Payton Scarbrough had two hits and hit his second home run of the season. He doubled and had three RBI.

Liberty moves to 12-6 on the year. Virginia Tech falls to 10-8. The Hokies have lost three straight. It is the first time since 2002 that the Hokies have given up more than 20 runs at English Field. Liberty has beaten Virginia Tech the last two times the teams have met in Blacksburg.

Liberty struck for three runs to open the contest. Artis beat out an infield single to lead off the game and moved to second on a single through the right side of the infield by designated hitter Nick Walker. After a passed ball allowed both runners to move into scoring position at second and third, Shepherd lined a double off the top of the left field wall for a 2-0 advantage. Yacyk followed with a single to move Shepherd to third base, as the first four Flames to bat in the contest reached on a hit. Britt followed with a sacrifice fly to give Liberty an early 3-0 lead.

The Flames add to their advantage in the second. With one out, Scarbrough belted a 1-0 offering over the left field wall for a 4-0 edge. After Artis walked to chase Hokies starting pitcher Andrew McDonald, Walker greeted new Virginia Tech pitcher Nic Enright with a hit-and-run single. Two batters later, Yacyk sent a double to the bottom of the wall in right-center field, scoring both runners for a 6-0 lead.

In the third, Liberty sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring seven runs on five hits. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo walked and first baseman Sammy Taormina was hit by a pitch to open the inning. Third baseman Eric Grabowski followed with a double to plate both runners for an 8-0 lead. Scarbrough and Artis then hit back-to-back run-scoring doubles to make it, 10-0, Flames.

Two batters later, Shepherd singled to score Artis and was aboard on Yacyk’s home run, as the Flames built a 13-0 lead.

Virginia Tech pushed across a run in the third. Left fielder Nick Anderson walked with the bases loaded, getting the host Hokies on the scoreboard at 13-1.

The Hokies cut into the Liberty advantage with six runs in the fourth. After the first two runs of the inning were forced in on a hit batter and a walk with the bases loaded and no one out, right fielder Tom Stoffel doubled in two more runs to make it, 13-5 Flames. Later in the inning, shortstop Ryan Tufts dropped a two-run single into left field, trimming the Liberty lead to 13-7.

The Flames added four more runs in the seventh inning. Liberty scored runs on a single by Kowalo, a double by Grabowski and a bases-loaded walk to Artis on a wild pitch, upping their lead to 17-7.

In the ninth, Shepherd’s double with the bases load made it, 19-7. Later, Britt hit a three-run home run for what proved to be the final score of 22-7.

Geoffrey Murphy runs his record to 1-1 on the season, benefitting from the Flames jumping out to a 13-0 lead. He pitched the first three innings. Shane Quarterley followed with five innings of scoreless relief.

MacDonald falls to 1-2 on the year. The right-hander was roughed up for five runs on five hits over 1 1/3 innings.

Virginia Tech had eight hits in the contest.

Liberty returns home for a four-game series against the Kent State Golden Flashes, this weekend. The series opens Friday at Liberty Baseball Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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