Home Duke edges Liberty, 8-7

Duke edges Liberty, 8-7


libertyIn a back-and-forth contest, Duke and Liberty combined for 15 runs, 25 hits, 16 walks and six lead changes, as the Blue Devils edged the Flames in a slugfest, 8-7, Tuesday evening at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

In the three hour and 44 minute contest, the teams used 13 pitchers (eight for Duke, five for Liberty), with a solo home run by Duke first baseman Justin Bellinger in the sixth proving to be the difference.

Liberty shortstop Dalton Britt collected three hits and a RBI for the Flames in the contest. Flames left fielder D.J. Artis and second baseman Will Shepherd each had two hits and a RBI. Artis scored twice, while Shepherd also plated a run in the contest.

3,878 fans attended the contest, the second largest crowd in Liberty Baseball Stadium history and the largest this season.

Liberty falls to 20-18 on the year. Duke moves to 21-17.

The Flames took a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the first inning. Artis and designated hitter Austin Bream walked. After both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, a one-out ground out by first baseman Andrew Yacyk scored Artis, giving Liberty an early lead.

Both teams plated two runs each in the second. Duke got on the scoreboard in the top of the inning on a RBI single by second baseman Max Miller and a bases loaded walk to catcher Chris Proctor for a brief, 2-1 advantage.

Liberty answered in the bottom of the frame. Liberty loaded the bases with two out and took a 3-2 edge, when Blue Devils third baseman Jack Labosky misplayed a grounder by Bream, allowing two runs to score.

Duke tied the contest in the third. Bellinger led off the inning with a double into the left-center field gap. Three batters later, a single by left fielder Michael Smicklas plated Bellinger, knotting the game at 3-3.

Each team scored runs in the fourth. In the top of the inning, Center fielder Jimmy Herron and Proctor were both hit by a pitch to open the frame. Labosky followed with a two-run double for a 5-3 advantage.

In the bottom of the inning, Liberty plated three runs on five straight singles with two outs. Artis started the string with a single to left and advanced to third on a single by Bream. Shepherd and Yacyk both followed with RBI singles, tying the contest for the second time at 5-5. Britt then lined a RBI single through the left side of the infield, putting the Flames on top, 6-5.

Duke once again took the lead in the top of the fifth, only to see Liberty plate a run in the bottom of the inning to knot the game for the third and final time.

Smicklas led off the inning with a double. Later, Herron and Proctor drew two-out walks to load the bases for Labosky, who singled, scoring two runs for a 7-6 edge.

In the bottom of fifth, third baseman Josh Barrick and center fielder Jack Morris reached on back-to-back singles with one out. Barrick then came home to tie the game on a fielder’s choice grounder by Artis, tying the game again at 7-7.

Bellinger led off the sixth with what proved to be the winning run, a home run, his fifth of the year, for an 8-7 advantage.

In the bottom of the ninth, Liberty moved the tying run to third. Britt opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Payton Scarbrough. After moving to third on a ground out, Duke reliever Mitch Stallings retired Barrick on a ground out to close out the 8-7 win.

Thomas Simpson, the fourth Liberty pitcher in the contest, falls to 1-2 on the season. The right-hander gave up one run on two hits. He struck out two and walked one.

Blue Devils reliever Nick Hendrix evens his record at 2-2. The fifth pitcher of the contest for Duke, the left-hander allowed one run on two hits in one inning of work.

Liberty collected 12 hits, while Duke had 13. The Blue Devils left 13 men on base, while the Flames left 10.

Liberty travels to Richmond, Va., for a contest against the Richmond Spiders, tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.



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