Liberty downs Radford on Senior Night
First baseman Andrew Yacyk had four RBI and left fielder D.J. Artis collected three hits, helping the Liberty Flames successfully celebrate their seniors by defeating the Radford Highlanders, 11-5, on Senior Night, Friday evening at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Yacyk had two hits, a double and single, plating two runs on each hit. It is the fourth time this season that the junior has driven in four or more runs in a contest. The first baseman also scored twice.
Artis, who entered the night leading the Big South in on-base percentage, had three hits, scoring a run and driving in a run. It is the sixth time this year that the freshman outfielder has posted three or more hits in a contest. Artis leads the Flames with 25 multiple-hit contests.
Senior shortstop Dalton Britt, who played in his 230th consecutive game, may have delivered the biggest hit of the night, a three-run triple in the seventh with Liberty leading 6-5.
Before the Big South Conference contest, the Flames recognized their eight senior members. Players Britt, Austin Bream, Victor Cole, Carson Herndon, Geoffrey Murphy and Nick Walker, along with student assistant coaches A.J. Stevens and Jaret White were honored.
Liberty moves to 8-11 in Big South play and 24-26 overall. Radford falls to 6-13 in conference and 14-35 overall.
The visiting Highlanders benefitted from a Flames’ error to take a 1-0 edge in the game’s opening inning. Second baseman Chris Coia led off the game with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Colby Higgerson. Coia advanced to third base on a wild pitch and the scored when Liberty catcher Payton Scarbrough’s throw to third got away.
In the third, Liberty batted around, erupting for five runs. Designated hitter Josh Latta opened the inning with a single and back-to-back bunt singles by center fielder Jack Morris and third baseman Eric Grabowski loaded the bases. Artis followed with a RBI single, tying the contest at 1-1.
A sacrifice fly by Liberty’s next batter Will Shepherd scored Morris, giving Liberty a 2-1 lead. Yacyk followed by lining his first two-run hit of the night, a double, into the right field corner, putting the Flames up, 4-1. Two batters later, a two-out single by second baseman Andrew Kowalo plated Yacyk for a 5-1 advantage.
Radford cut the home team’s lead to two with a pair runs in the fourth. With two outs, designated hitter Chandler Davis singled to score two runs, trimming the Liberty edge to 5-3.
Two innings later, the Highlanders tied the game with two runs in the top of the sixth, only to see the Flames answer with a run in the bottom of the inning to take back the advantage. Radford plated runs on a one-out ground out with runners on second and third by catcher Jonathan Gonzalez and a balk by Liberty starting pitcher Evan Mitchell, allowing Radford to knot the game at 5-5.
In the home half of the inning, Kowalo drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single back through the middle of the diamond by Scarbrough. Latta followed with a sacrifice fly, giving the Flames a 6-5 lead.
Britt stretched Liberty’s lead in the seventh. Morris, who had two hits in the game, doubled to begin the bottom of the inning. Two batters later, Shepherd beat out an infield single and Yacyk walked to load the bases for Britt. The shortstop ripped the first pitch he saw down the left field line, clearing the bases and extending the Flames’ lead to 9-5.
Liberty added two more in the eighth. Yacyk’s two-run single gave Liberty what proved to be the final score of 11-5.
Flames’ reliever Zander Clouse moves to 4-2 on the year. The right-hander pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, scattering two hits. He struck out three and walked two.
Highlanders’ starting pitcher Zack Ridgely gave up six runs on nine hits over the first six innings. The first of four pitchers for Radford, he stuck out seven and walked.
Liberty banged out 15 hits in the contest. Radford had 11.
The Flames and Highlanders will meet again at Liberty Baseball Stadium, tomorrow night. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.