Right-hander Zander Clouse pitched 7 2/3 innings and designated hitter Nick Walker drove in three runs, as the Liberty Flames defeated the UConn Huskies, 5-4, Sunday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Clouse held the Huskies in check for most of the afternoon, working out of base loaded threat in the fourth. The right-hander moves to 2-0 on the year, allowing four runs on six hits. He struck out three and walked two batters, before giving way to reliever Shane Quarterley with two on and two out in the top of the eighth.
Walker collected a career-high three RBI with a single and sacrifice fly in the contest.
Liberty takes the three-game series, 2-1, and moves to 7-5 on the year. UConn drops to 5-4.
The Huskies staked themselves to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Center fielder Jack Sundberg led off the game with his first home run of the season into the right field bullpen for an early advantage.
The Flames tied the contest in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Andrew Kowalo singled to left field and advanced to second on a walk to first baseman Sammy Taormina to open the frame. Kowalo then moved to third on a double play and scored on a throwing error by UConn third baseman Willy Yahn to knot the score at 1-1.
The Huskies answered with a run in the third. Catcher Alex LeFevre beat out an infield single, leading off the inning, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Yahn singled through the left side of the infield to plate LeFevre to put UConn back in front, 2-1.
Clouse worked out of a bases loaded, one-out threat in the fourth inning. The right-hander induced LeFevre to ground into a double play to end the inning without a run scoring.
In the fifth, Liberty scored twice to take back the lead. Catcher Peyton Scarbrough drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a single back through the middle by center fielder D.J. Artis.
After Artis stole second base, Walker singled back through the middle of the diamond, plating both runners for a 3-2 edge.
The Flames extended their lead with two more in the sixth. Taormina opened the bottom of the inning with an opposite field double into the left-center field gap. Left fielder Andrew Yacyk then singled to put runners on first and third for second baseman Eric Grabowksi, who singled to score Taormina for a 4-2 advantage. Later in the inning, Liberty loaded the bases with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Walker for a 5-2 edge.
UConn cut into their hosts’ lead in the eighth. With two out and two men on, Clouse gave way to Quarterley, The next batter, Joe DeRoche-Duffin grounded a two-run double over the third base bag, trimming the Liberty lead to 5-4.
In the top of the ninth, the Huskies moved a runner to second with two out on a single by pinch hitter Zac Susi. But Quarterley was able to get Yahn to bounce into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
Quarterley records his second save of the season, allowing two hits over the final 1 1/3 innings.
UConn starting pitcher Ronnie Rossomando falls to 0-1 on the season. He gave up three runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings. The first of five Huskies to pitch in the contest, the right-hander struck out one and walked five.
Liberty outhit UConn, 9-8. The Huskies made the only error of the contest.
Shortstop Dalton Britt and Artis each had two hits for the Flames in the contest.
Liberty will next travel to Elon, N.C., Tuesday for a contest with the Elon Phoenix. First pitch at Latham Park is scheduled for 4 p.m.