Liberty edges Longwood, 5-4, in 11 innings

liberty baseballA two-out throwing error in the bottom of the 11th inning allowed the Liberty Flames to pull out a 5-4 victory over the Longwood Lancers, Sunday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

With runners at the corners, two out, and score knotted a 4-4 in home half of the 11th in the Big South Conference contest, Longwood shortstop Antwaun Tucker’s throw pulled first baseman Justin Mitchell off the bag, allowing Liberty third baseman to reach safely. The miscue permitted pinch runner Brady Heid to score and give the Flames a 5-4 victory.

Liberty moves to 14-7 in Big South play and 26-16 overall. The Flames take the series, 2-1, and raise their record in extra-inning games to 3-0 on the year. Longwood falls to 7-14 in conference and 14-28 overall.

Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the first. Center fielder D.J. Artis opened the bottom half of the game’s opening inning with a single. The Flames center fielder then stole second and third base, before scoring on a throwing error by Lancer catcher Joey Mendez for the game’s first run.

In the second, each team plated two runs apiece. A one-out double by Tucker and a sacrifice fly by right fielder Ryan Schull in the top of the inning gave the Longwood a short-lived, 2-1, lead. In the bottom of the inning, right fielder Brandon Rohrer plated catcher Jonathan Embry, who doubled to open the bottom half of the frame, with a single. Shortstop Cam Locklear then came in on balk, as the Flames regained the advantage at 3-2.

Liberty extended its lead with a run in the fifth. Artis, who had three hits in the contest, led off the home half of the inning with a single and moved to second when left fielder Tre Todd walked. After both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Logan Mathieu, Galazin brought home Artis with a run-producing ground out for a 4-2 edge.

Held without a hit since the second inning by Liberty starting pitcher Zach Clinton and reliever Zack Brockman, the Lancers broke through to tie the game in the eighth. Pinch hitter Tyler Mahone led off the inning with a single. Pinch runner Scott Carter then stole second and came around to score on a single by third baseman Grant Keller, trimming the Liberty lead to one at 4-3. Two batters later, designated hitter Mac McCafferty’s two-out RBI single deadlocked the contest at 4-4.

The Flames advanced the winning run to third base in the 10th, but were unable to break the stalemate. After reaching on a fielder’s choice with one out, Embry moved to second on a two-out infield single by Locklear. The Liberty catcher then advance to third on a wild pitch, before Lancer reliever Michael Catlin induced a ground out by Rohrer to strand the runners and end the inning.

In the top of the 11th, Longwood pinch hitter Eric Crain led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mendez. However, Liberty right-hander Brady Stamper battled back, retiring the next two Lancers to keep the game tied at 4-4.

Ben Highfill, who entered the game at second base in the top of the ninth, ended up at second base after Longwood left fielder Jack Schnell dropped his fly ball left to open the 11th. Two batters later, Todd was intentionally walked. Pinch runner Heid then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice ground out by Mathieu. With runners on the corners, two out, and pinch runner John O’ Connor running from first base on the pitch, Galazin sent a grounder to shortstop, which Tucker gloved by threw wide of first, allowing Galazin to reach safely and Heid to score for the 5-4 victory.

Liberty reliever Stamper improves to 3-2 on the year. The freshman pitched two scoreless innings, yielding one hit.

Longwood right-hander Catlin falls to 3-5. He gave up one run during one inning of relief. He struck out one and walked one.

Liberty collected nine hits, while Longwood had six. The Lancers committed four errors, while Liberty made one.


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