Liberty pitcher Jack DeGroat handcuffed No. 2 seed High Point through seven innings, leading the No. 7 Flames to a victory over the Panthers, in Game 1 of the Big South Baseball Championship, Tuesday at Lexington County Baseball Stadium.
DeGroat, who moves to 4-3 on the season, outdueled High Point right-hander Andrew Gottfried, holding the Panthers scoreless and limiting them to five baserunners over the first seven innings. The freshman was in command throughout his outing, allowing one hit, while striking out a career-high nine batters. He walked three.
Shortstop Dalton Britt set a Liberty record by playing in his 236th game career. The mark surpasses the previous record of 235 games played set by Trey Wimmer from 2009-14. Britt had two hits and a RBI and scored a run in the contest.
Second baseman Andrew Kowalo also collected two hits, driving in a run and scoring a run. Designated hitter Nick Walker opened the scoring with his first home run of the season.
Eight of Liberty’s 10 hits in the contest came with two outs.
Liberty moves to 29-27 and advances to play the winner of Game 2 between No. 6 seed Winthrop and No. 3 seed Longwood at4:30 p.m., tomorrow afternoon. The Flames have won three straight and seven out of their last eight games. High Point falls to 31-23 and will play an elimination game against the loser of Winthrop/Longwood at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Liberty, the visitor on the scoreboard, staked itself to a 2-0 advantage in the top of the third. With two outs, Walker hit the first home run of the season, belting a 3-2 pitch off the right field wall for a 1-0 lead. Right fielder Will Shepherd then doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. Left fielder Andrew Yacyk followed by dropping a single into the right-center field gap, scoring Shepherd for a 2-0 edge.
High Point threatened in the fourth, only to come away empty. Third baseman Dominic Fazio opened the inning with a single and with two outs, moved to second when designated hitter Zach Vangrift drew a base on balls. After a balk advanced both runners into scoring position, DeGroat struck out center fielder Josh Greene, his seventh of the contest, to end the threat and hold the Liberty advantage at 2-0.
The Flames broke the game open in the top of the eighth, scoring four two-out runs. With two outs, Shepherd and Yacyk started the uprising with walks. Britt followed with a single, plating Shepherd for a 3-0 edge. First baseman Sammy Taormina followed by lining a two-run double into the right field corner for a 5-0 lead. Kowalo capped the four-run inning with a double to give Liberty a 6-0 lead.
High Point scored a run in the ninth for the final score of 6-1. A one-out grounder with the bases loaded by Greene provided the lone Panthers run of the contest.
Panthers’ Gottfried drops to 6-5 on the year. He gave up two runs on six hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Zander Clouse pitched the final two innings for Liberty.
The Panthers managed two hits in the contest.