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Mitchell’s complete game powers Liberty past CCSU, 5-1

libertyRight-hander Evan Mitchell went the distance for the first time in his Liberty career and shortstop Dalton Britt drove in four runs, leading the Flames past the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, 5-1, Friday evening in the second game of the Liberty Invitational at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.

In his second start of the season, Mitchell allowed an unearned run, while limiting CCSU to five hits over the full nine innings to not only record his first victory in a Flames uniform, but his first complete game. He struck out a career-high six batters and walked one in the contest, running his record to 1-1 on the year.

Meanwhile, Britt tied his career-high with four RBI in the contest. The shortstop collected four RBI for the first time in 2016 and the third time in his career. Britt had two hits in the contest, one a three-run double in the seventh.

Liberty moves to 8-6 on the year. CCSU, which lost earlier in the day to Evansville, 5-0, drops to 4-5. The contest was the first-ever meeting between the two programs on the diamond.

The Flames staked themselves to an advantage, they never relinquished with a run in the bottom of the first. Center fielder D.J. Artis singled and stole second to open the frame. The Liberty center fielder then moved to third on a ground out to second by designated hitter Nick Walker and scored two batters later, an RBI ground out by Britt for a 1-0 edge.

Liberty added to its lead in the third. With one out, right fielder Will Shepherd lined a double to the bottom of the center field and advanced to third on an infield single by Britt. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo followed with a single, extending the Flames’ advantage to 2-0.

The Blue Devils scored their lone run of the night on a Liberty error in the top of the fourth. With one out, shortstop Dean Lockery singled and later scored, when third baseman Eric Grabowski threw wide of first base with two outs, cutting the Liberty lead in half at 2-1.

In the top of the seventh, CCSU moved a runner to third with one out. However, Mitchell struck out right fielder Matt Martinez and got catcher Nick Garland on a soft, humped back liner to second to strand the runner, ending the scoring threat.

In the bottom of the inning, Liberty upped its advantage with three runs. Artis singled with one out and stole second. Walker and Shepherd then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Britt. The shortstop followed by lining the first pitch of his at bat into right field for a double, clearing the bases to give the Flames what proved to be the final score of 5-1.

CCSU starting pitcher Brandon Fox falls to 1-2 on the season. The right-hander gave up all five runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three.

The Flames outhit the Blue Devils, 9-5. Artis also had two hits for the Flames and scored twice in the contest.

Tomorrow, Liberty will host the Evansville Purple Aces in the first game of the day at the Liberty Invitational. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.