Left-hander Victor Cole went the distance for the first time this season, leading the Liberty Flames to a 4-2 win over the Kent State Golden Flashes in game one of a doubleheader, Saturday at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Cole was in control for most of the contest, allowing two runs on four hits, going the full nine innings for the second time in his career. The senior, who evens his record at 1-1, struck out a career-high 11 batters and walked two. Cole finished the contest by retiring the last 13 of 14 Golden Flashes to face him.
Liberty moves to 13-7 on the season. Kent State falls to 11-5.
The Flames posted single runs in each of the game’s first three innings to build a 3-0 advantage.
Liberty staked itself to lead in the home half of the first. Left fielder D.J. Artis and designated hitter Nick Walker both singled to open the inning and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Will Shepherd. First baseman Andrew Yacyk followed with a sacrifice fly to score Artis with the contest’s first run for a 1-0 edge.
In the second, catcher Payton Scarbrough singled with one out. Two batters later, center fielder Jack Morris singled, his first collegiate hit, advancing Scarbrough to second. A fielding error by Kent State third baseman Dylan Rosa on the next batter Artis’ ground ball near the third base bag, allowed Scarbrough to score, giving the Flames a 2-0 lead.
Liberty extended its advantage in the third. Shepherd began the inning with a single and stole second base. Yacyk followed with double to the wall in the left field, plating Shepherd for a 3-0 lead.
Kent State broke through against Cole in the top of the sixth. Shortstop Sam Hurt singled and center fielder Jake Neuschaefer walked leading off the inning. Left fielder Luke Burch followed with a single, which Liberty left fielder Artis mishandled, allowing Hurt to score. After a sacrifice bunt moved runners into scoring position at second and third base, first baseman Zach Zalewski plated a run with a ground out, cutting the Flames’ advantage to 3-2.
In the bottom of the inning, Liberty answered with a run of its own. Second baseman Andrew Kowalo lined a double into the left-center field gap to open the inning and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Scarbrough. Third baseman Eric Grabowski followed with a run-producing sacrifice fly giving Liberty what proved to be the final score of 4-2.
Cole retired the final seven batters of the contest en route to his first victory of 2016.
Golden Flashes right-hander Andy Ravel falls to 3-1. The Kent State starter gave up four runs, three earned on seven hits over the first six innings. He struck out six and walked one.
Liberty collected 10 hits in the contest. Flames Shepherd, Yacyk and Scarbrough each had two hits apiece.
After a rain delay, the two teams met in a seven-inning contest in game two later in the afternoon.
Kent State defeats Liberty in game two
The Kent State Golden Flashes plated five runs in the first, leading from start to finish in an 8-1 win over the Liberty Flames in game two of a doubleheader, Saturday at Liberty Baseball Stadium. The two teams split the twinbill, as Liberty took the first game, 4-2.
Liberty designated hitter Nick Walker went 3-for-3 with a walk to lead all hitters in the contest.
The Flames drop to 13-8 on the year. Kent State moves to 12-5 on the season.
The visiting Golden Flashes sent all nine men in the batting order to the plate in the first inning of the seven-inning contest. With two men on after receiving free passes, third baseman Dylan Rosa lined a two-run double into left field for a 2-0 Kent State edge. A two-out error by Liberty pitcher Zander Clouse on a dropped throw to first base, allowed Rosa to score, making it 3-0. Two batters later, designated hitter Brad Hamilton’s two run double gave the visitors a 5-0 advantage.
The Golden Flashes extended its lead in the second. A two-run double by first baseman Zarley Zalewski pushed the Kent State advantage to 7-0.
Liberty loaded the bases in third inning with no outs in the third and one out in the fifth. However each time, left-hander Eli Kraus was able to end the scoring threat without allowing a run.
After Kent State scored a run in the top of the seventh, Liberty scored a run in the bottom of the inning for the final score of 8-1. Flames center fielder D.J. Artis singled and designated hitter Nick Walker doubled to open the inning. Right fielder Will Shepherd then lifted a fly ball to plate Artis.
Liberty right-hander Clouse drops to 2-1 on the season. Clouse gave up five runs, two earned, on three hits over 2/3-plus innings. He struck out two batters and walked two batters.
Kraus moves to 3-1. The left-hander did not allow a run in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Kent State outhit Liberty, 9-7, in the contest.
Kent State and Liberty will meet in the final contest of the four-game series, tomorrow at Liberty Baseball Stadium. Due to forecasted weather for the Lynchburg area, first pitch is now scheduled for noon.