Liberty edged by Maryland, 10-9
A ninth inning rally by the Liberty Flames fell short, Tuesday night at Bob “Turtle” Stadium. After the Maryland Terrapins erased an early 4-1 Liberty lead during the middle innings to take a 10-5 lead into the ninth, the Flames rallied to bring the winning run to the plate, before being edged, 10-9.
Second baseman Andrew Kowalo walked and Josh Latta, a defensive replacement at catcher in the eighth, singled to lead off the ninth inning. Third baseman Josh Barrick followed by hitting a home run off the scoreboard in left field to cut the Maryland lead to 10-8.
Later in the inning, right fielder Will Shepherd kept the rally alive, drawing a two-out walk. After moving to second base on a passed ball, first baseman Andrew Yacyk singled, driving in Shepherd to trim the Flames’ deficit to 10-9. However, Maryland pitcher Mike Rescingo retired shortstop Dalton Britt to close out the victory for Maryland.
Yacyk went 5-for-6 in his return to his home state. The Hagerstown, Md., native drove in three runs, setting a new career-high for hits.
Freshman center fielder Jack Morris collected two hits in the contest, including the first home run of his college career, three RBI and scored twice in the contest. Morris’ home run in the fourth plated three runs, his first RBI as a Flame.
Barrick also hit his first home run of his career, a three-run shot, had two hits, three RBI and scored twice in the game.
Liberty falls to 13-10 on the season. Maryland evens its record at 10-10.
Liberty and Maryland exchanged single runs in the third. The Flames’ Morris led off the inning with a single to center field and scored on a one-out single by Yacyk for the first run of the contest. Terrapin shortstop Kevin Smith opened the bottom of the third with his second home run of the year, knotting the game at 1-1.
The Flames regained the lead on Morris’ home run in the top of the fourth. Kowalo was hit by a pitch to open the inning. Two batters later, Barrick singled. Morris followed by lining the first pitch of his at bat off the scoreboard in left-center field for a 4-1 Liberty edge.
In the bottom of the inning, the Terps countered with two runs of their own. With two outs, catcher Dan Maynard doubled down the left field line, trimming the Liberty advantage to 4-3.
Maryland took advantage of three straight walks to take their first lead of the contest. After right fielder Madison Nickens doubled to open the fifth inning, three straight Terps walked to force in a run, tying the game at 4-4. Center fielder Anthony Papio followed by dropping a single into left field, giving Maryland a 5-4 edge.
The home team plated five in the sixth. Maynard singled to begin the bottom half of the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Nickens followed with a run-scoring single, extending the Terps’ advantage to 6-4.
Later in the inning, designated hitter Nick Cieri singled with runners at the corners, upping the Maryland advantage to 7-4. A run-scoring infield single by left fielder Marty Costes made it 8-4. First baseman Kevin Biondic followed with two-run home run, his third of the year, extending the Terps’ lead to 10-4.
Liberty narrowed the gap to 10-5 in the eighth. A two-out double by Yacyk scored Shepherd, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, trimming the Terps’ edge to five runs.
Liberty right-hander Thomas Simpson drops to 1-1 on the year. The second of six Flames to pitch in the contest, Siimpson allowed four runs, two earned, on two hits over 1 1/3 innings of relief. He struck out one and walked three.
Maryland reliever Andrew Green moves to 1-0. The third of eight Terrapins to pitch in the contest, Green pitched a scoreless fifth inning, allowing two hits and striking out one.
The Flames outhit the Terps, 13-11. Liberty left 13 men on base, while Maryland left eight.
Liberty’s Kowalo also had two hits, was hit by a pitch twice and walked, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances in the contest. Nickens had three hits, a RBI and scored twice for Maryland.
Liberty returns home to open Big South Conference play, this weekend. The Flames will host the UNC Asheville Bulldogs at Liberty Baseball Stadium, Thursday–Saturday. First pitch for the series opener is set for 7 p.m., Thursday.