Third baseman Eric Grabowski hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high seven runs, powering the Liberty Flames past the Radford Highlanders, 14-8, Sunday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium. With the win, Liberty sweeps the three-game Big South series to close out its 2016 home schedule.
Grabowski went 3-for-4 with seven RBI and scored three times in the contest. All three of his hits went for extra bases. The third baseman hit his third home run of the season, a grand slam, and had two doubles on the afternoon, to post his single game career-high for RBI. Grabowski’s previous game-high was two RBI, which he previously reached three times, this season.
Nine of Liberty’s 11 hits in the contest went for extra bases. Grabowski was joined by left fielder D.J. Artis and first baseman Andrew Yacyk with two doubles each in the contest.
Pitcher Jordan Scott allowed only one runner over the first six innings, surrendering one hit, before leaving in the seventh. The performance earned the right-hander his first win as a Flame, moving to 1-1 on the year. He gave up four runs on four hits over six-plus innings of work, his longest outing of 2016. He struck out three and walked one.
Liberty improves to 10-11 in Big South play and 26-26 overall. The Flames have won four-straight contests and finished the regular season with an 18-11 mark at Liberty Baseball Stadium. Radford falls to 6-15 in conference and 14-37 overall.
Liberty jumped out to a commanding 7-0 advantage in the third. The Flames batted around and scored all seven runs in the inning with two out. Center fielder Jack Morris opened the home half of the third with a double. Later with two outs, Yacyk was intentionally walked and shortstop Dalton Britt was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo then walked and catcher Payton Scarbrough and designated hitter Josh Latta were hit by pitches, forcing in runs for a 3-0 Liberty edge. Grabowski followed with a blast over the left field wall, clearing the bases and giving the Flames a 7-0 lead.
In the sixth, Liberty plated three more runs. Latta singled to begin the inning and scored from first base on the first double of the game for Grabowski. After advancing to third on a fly out, a wild pitch allowed the Flames’ third baseman to make it, 9-0 Flames. Later in the inning, Artis doubled and two batters later, scored on a two-out double by Yacyk, building the Liberty lead to 10-0.
Radford and Liberty combined to scored nine runs in the seventh. Held to one hit through the first six innings, the Highlanders broke through against Scott in the top of the seventh. Radford struck for its first run of the game on back-to-back doubles by shortstop Colby Higgerson and third baseman Danny Hrbek. After a walk to right fielder Shane Johnsonbaugh, catcher Jonathan Gonzalez doubled home two runs and later, scored on a double play. A RBI single by pinch hitter Chandler Davis capped the frame, slicing the Liberty lead to 10-5.
In the bottom of the inning, the Flames answered with four runs of their own. A ground-rule double by Grabowski, plated Kowalo, who opened the bottom of the inning with a double, and Latta, who was hit by a pitch. Later in the inning, pinch hitter Sam Urban recorded his first collegiate RBI with a ground out and Artis provided a RBI double for a 14-5 advantage.
Radford plated three runs in the top of the ninth for the final score of 14-5.
Highlanders’ starting pitcher Tyler Swarmer drops to 3-5. The left-hander gave up seven runs on three hits over the first five innings. He struck out one and walked three.
Radford collected 11 hits in the contest.
Liberty next travels to Radford for a non-conference contest, Tuesday. Game time at RU Baseball Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.