Liberty edged in 11th at Presbyterian, 9-8

libertyDespite Liberty rallying in the ninth to send the game into extra innings and taking a lead in the 10th, the Flames fell to the Presbyterian Blue Hose, 9-8, in 11 innings, Sunday afternoon at PC Baseball Complex.

Trailing 6-4 in the ninth with two outs and down to his last strike, Liberty catcher Payton Scarbrough lined a two-run single into right field to tie the game and send the Big South contest into extra innings.

Both teams plated two runs in the 10th inning, before Presbyterian won on a walk-off single by first baseman A.J. Priaulx in 11th for the victory.

Liberty drops to 7-8 in the Big South and 21-21 overall. Presbyterian improves to 7-8 in the conference and 21-18 overall. After the Flames took the first game of the series, 4-1, on Friday, the Blue Hose took the final two games of the series.

The Flames built a 4-1 lead through 4 1/3 innings, only to see the host Blue Hose plate five in the fifth to go in front until the ninth.

Liberty jumped out to an early advantage in the contest’s opening inning. Center fielder D.J. Artis singled to lead off the game and promptly stole second. Designated hitter Nick Walker then drew a walk and Artis moved to third on a wild pitch on ball four, putting Flames at the corners. Right fielder Will Shepherd plated the first run of the contest with a single. After moving to third base on a double play, Walker scored on another wild pitch for a 2-0 edge.

Presbyterian countered with a run in the home half of the first. With two outs, right fielder Weston Jackson doubled into the left-center field gap and came around to score on a single by first baseman A.J. Priaulx, trimming Liberty’s lead to 2-1.

The Flames extended their advantage with a run in the third. With one out, left fielder Andrew Yacyk doubled into the right field gap. Shortstop Dalton Britt followed with a RBI single back through the middle of the diamond for a 3-1 edge.

In the bottom of the third, Presbyterian advanced two runners into scoring position with one out. However, Liberty starting pitcher Carson Herndon stranded the runners, retiring the next two batters to hold the Flames’ two-run lead.

Liberty added to its advantage in the fifth. Yacyk and Britt led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After Scarbrough moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, Yacyk scored on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Sammy Taormina for a 4-1 lead.

The Blue Hose took the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Second baseman Glen Casaceli singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Mick Tinny. Left fielder Brett Aukland followed with a single, plating Casceli, making it, 4-2 Flames. Aukland then advanced to second on a bunt single by center fielder Tyler Weyenberg and scored when Herndon’s throw to first got away to move within one at 4-3.

Jackson followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game at 4-4. After Jackson advanced on a wild pitch, Priaulx drove him in with a single to give PC a 5-4 edge.

The Blue Hose took advantage of a Liberty miscue to add to their advantage. With one out, Aukland was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Flames catcher Scarbrough. He then scored on a wild pitch for a 6-4 lead.

Down to its last strike and trailing, 6-4, in the top of the ninth, Liberty tied the contest to send the game to extra innings. Shepherd walked with one out and moved to third on a double into the left field corner by Yacyk. Two batters later, Scarbrough worked a 3-2 count with two outs against PC closer Hayden Deal and lined a single into right field, scoring Shepherd and pinch runner Jack Morris to knot the game at 6-6.

In the top of the 10th inning, Liberty struck for two runs. Third baseman Eric Grabowski singled with one out and advanced to third on a single by D.J. Artis. The center fielder then stole second base to put two runners in scoring position. Two batters later, Shepherd ripped a single to left, driving in both runners for an 8-6 lead.

However, Presbyterian answered in the bottom of the inning to send it to the 11th. With one out, shortstop Curtis Avery singled and moved to second on a throwing error by Flames reliever Zander Clouse on a bunt by third baseman Jacob Midkiff. Desiganted hitter Peter Johnson followed with a single to trim the Liberty lead to 8-7. Two batters later, pinch hitter Rob Kosi singled to score Midkiff, tying the game at 8-8. The next batter Aukland then singled to center field, but center fielder Jack Morris, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of ninth, threw Johnson out at home plate to continue the contest.

In the top of the 11th, Britt led off the inning with a single, only to be left at third base, while Presbyterian ended the contest in the bottom of the inning. Weyenberg opened the inning with a double. After an intentional walk to Jackson, Piraulx single to score Weyenberg for the 9-8 win.

Liberty’s fourth pitcher of the game, reliever Shane Quarterley, drops to 5-3 on the season. The right-hander gave up a run on five hits over 2/3-plus innings of work. He walked one batter intentionally.

Presbyterian pitcher Cole Norwood moves to 1-1. The fifth Blue Hose to take the mound in the contest, he pitched a scoreless 11th. He struck out one batter.

Liberty outhit the Presbyterian, 18-17. Yacyk and Britt each had three hits in the contest for the Flames. Shepherd drove in three runs.

Liberty left 12 men on base, while PC left 10.

Liberty returns home for a contest with the Virginia Tech Hokies, Tuesday evening. First pitch at Liberty Baseball Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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