Liberty drops Gardner-Webb, 10-8
Left fielder Jake Barbee hit a three-run home run and the Liberty Flames took advantage of two Gardner-Webb errors to take the lead in the eighth inning, on the way to a 10-8 victory over the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Friday evening at John Henry Moss Stadium.
Barbee, who also walked and scored three times in the contest, belted his third home run of the season in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 6-6.
Liberty moves to 8-5 in Big South play and 22-14 overall. Gardner-Webb drops to 7-6 in the Big South and 19-18 overall.
Liberty scored three in the top of the first, only to see Gardner-Webb take advantage of two Flames errors in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 3-3. With one out, third baseman Trey McDyre singled and left fielder Jake Barbee walked. First baseman Sammy Taormina then doubled to center field, plating McDyre for a 1-0 edge. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo followed by lacing a two-run double off the right field wall for a three-run lead.
Gardner-Webb shortstop Paul Trick opened the home half of the first with his fifth home run of the season. After second baseman Mickey Dugan and catcher Justin Kunz each drew walks, third baseman Collin Thacker’s fielder’s’ choice ground ball was mishandled by Liberty shortstop Cam Locklear, allowing the Bulldogs to load the bases. Dugan then scored on a ground ball double play and Kunz on a throwing error by the Flames’ McDyre to knot the contest at 3-3.
Gardner-Webb took advantage of another Liberty miscue to take a three-run lead in the third. Dugan led off the home half of the third with a walk and advanced to second base on a fielding error by Liberty’s Locklear. Two batters later, first baseman Chandler Redmond singled through the right side of the infield with two outs, scoring Dugan for a 4-3 edge. Designated hitter Gage Parham followed with a two-run single for a 6-3 lead.
The Flames’ Barbee tied the contest in the fifth. Leadoff hitter Locklear walked and advanced to third on a single by center fielder D.J. Artis. Two batters later, Barbee blasted a 1-0 pitch high off the top of the scoreboard in right-center field to deadlock the game at 6-6.
In its next at bat, Liberty took the lead with a two-out run. Right fielder Will Shepherd beat out an infield chopper for a hit with one out in the sixth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, pinch hitter Payton Scarbrough ripped a double down the left field line, scoring Shepherd for 7-6 advantage.
Gardner-Webb tied the game in the seventh. With one out, Kunz, who had two hits in the contest, hit his fourth home run of the year, tying the game at 7-7.
Two Bulldogs’ errors allowed Liberty to answer with a run and take back the lead. Designated hitter Eric Grabowski led off the eighth inning with double to left field. With Shepherd at the plate, Grabowski moved to third, when Gardner-Webb right-hander Taylor Goodwin’s throw sailed into center field on a pickoff attempt. Runnin’ Bulldog center fielder picked up the errant throw and threw the ball into the home team dugout, allowing Grabowski to score and give the Flames an 8-7 edge.
Liberty added insurance runs in the top of the ninth without a hit. Three Flames walked and two scored on wild pitches for a 10-7 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Gardner-Webb scored a run and brought the winning run to the plate. However, Liberty right-hander Jack DeGroat got Chandler Redmond to fly out to Flames left fielder Barbee with runners at first and second to earn his fourth save of the season and seal the 10-8 victory.
Liberty right-hander Shane Quarterley improves to 3-1 on the year. The senior gave up one run on three hits over 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter Garret Price. He did not strike out or walk a batter.
Gardner-Webb reliever Taylor Goodwin falls to 1-1. The right-hander, the third of four Bulldogs to take the mound in the game, allowed three runs on one hit over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Liberty outhit Gardner-Webb, 9-8. The Flames committed three errors, while Bulldogs made two.
Up Next: Liberty and Gardner-Webb will meet in a doubleheader, tomorrow at John Henry Moss Stadium. The first game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.