Liberty built a 4-0 lead after three innings, only to see visiting Kent State tie the contest in the top of the sixth. After the Flames once again took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, the Golden Flashes rallied in the ninth with two runs and kept a potential tying run for Liberty in the ninth from scoring to seal the victory.
First baseman Andrew Yacyk hit his fifth home run of the season in the contest.
Liberty falls to 13-9 on the year, while Kent State moves to 13-5 on the season.
The Flames jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the home half of the first. Left fielder D.J. Artis beat out an infield single and stole second to open the frame. Designated hitter Nick Walker then moved Artis to third base with a single. Right fielder Will Shepherd plated Artis with a sacrifice fly for the first run of the inning. Yacyk followed by lining a two-run home run down the left field line for an early three-run lead.
Liberty added a run in the third. Shepherd began the bottom of the inning with a double and came home on a one-out single by shortstop Dalton Britt for a 4-0 edge.
Kent State plated its first run of the contest in the top of the fifth. Designated hitter Brad Hamilton led off the inning with a double. He later scored on a fielder’s choice ground out by center fielder Mason Mamarella.
The Golden Flashes tied the contest in their next at bat. First baseman Zarley Zalewski walked to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a one-out single by left fielder Connor Simonetti. After a Liberty pitching change, Hamilton dropped a RBI single into center field, trimming the Flames’ advantage to 4-2. Catcher Pete Schuler and shortstop Sam Hurt followed with back-to-back run scoring singles, knotting the contest at 4-4.
Liberty went back in front with a two-out run in the bottom of the sixth. Third baseman Josh Barrick drew a walk with two away and advanced to second when center fielder Jack Morris was hit by a pitch. Barrick then beat the throw to home plate on a single by Artis to give the Flames a 5-4 edge.
In the top of the ninth, Kent State went back in front. Hurt was hit by a pitch and Mamarella reached on a fielding error on a bunt to open the ninth. After a bunt moved both runners into scoring position, a wild pitch on the first pitch of an attempted intentional walk allowed Hurt to come home, tying the game at 5-5. Right fielder Chris Burch followed with a double to scored Mamarella for a 6-5 lead.
Liberty moved the tying run into scoring position with one out in the ninth against Kent State closer Zach Willeman. Morris was hit by a pitch with one away and moved to second on a wild pitch. However, Willeman struck out the next two Flames to seal the Golden Flashes’ victory and record his fifth save of the year.
Liberty reliever Carson Herndon falls to 2-1 on the year. The second of three Flames to pitch in the contest, Herndon gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits over three innings. He struck out six and walked two. He combined with starting pitcher Parker Bean and reliever Shane Quarterley to strikeout 15 Kent State batters in the contest.
Zach Spangler, the fifth pitcher of the afternoon for the Golden Flashes, moves to 2-0. He did not allow a run over two innings of work, the seventh and eighth innings.
Each team had nine hits apiece, while Liberty made two errors. Artis and Morris had two hits each for the Flames.
Liberty will next travel to College Park, Md., for a contest with the Maryland Terrapins at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.Tuesday’s game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.