The first three batters in Liberty’s batting order combined for eight hits and reached base 11 times, leading the Flames to a 8-5 win over the UConn Huskies, Friday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Center fielder D.J. Artis, second baseman Eric Grabowski and right fielder Will Shepherd combined for eight hits and three walks to reach base 11 out of 15 times in the contest.
Shepherd posted his second three-hit game of the season and tied his career-high with three RBI, while leadoff hitter Artis went 2-for-2 with a double, walked three times and scored twice. No. 2 hitter Grabowski also collected three hits in the contest, his first time as a Flame, with a double and RBI, scoring twice.
Liberty snaps a two-game losing skid and moves to 6-4 on the year. UConn sees its four-game win streak halted, falling to 4-3. The contest was the first of three games between the two teams at Liberty Baseball Stadium, this weekend.
The visiting Huskies loaded the bases with one out in the game’s opening inning, but came away with only a run. After third baseman Willy Yahn singled with one out and the next two UConn hitters walked, designated hitter Tyler Gnesda reached on fielding error by Liberty third baseman Andrew Kowalo, plating a run for a 1-0 edge. However, shortstop Bryan Daniello struck out and the Flames threw out a runner trying to score on a passed ball to end the scoring threat and the inning.
After Husky starter Anthony Kay retired eight batters in a row, Liberty struck for four runs on five two-out hits in the third to take the lead. Artis started the uprising with a single and came around to score the first Flames’ run of the game on a double by Grabowski. Shepherd followed with a run-producing single, putting Liberty in front, 2-1.
First baseman Andrew Yacyk then singled, putting runners on the corners. Kowalo followed with a two-run double into the left-center field gap for a 4-1 lead.
UConn cut into the Flames’ advantage in the top of the fifth, only to see Liberty answer in the bottom of the inning. With a runner aboard, Huskies first baseman Bobby Melley lined his second home run of the year off the right field foul pole, bring UConn to within one at 4-3.
Liberty countered with three runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Artis walked and moved to third on a single to center by Grabowski. Shepherd followed with a two-run single to extend the Flames’ advantage to 6-3. Three batters later, shortstop Dalton Britt dropped a double between three fielders in shallow center field, scoring Shepherd and giving Liberty a 7-3 lead.
In the seventh, the Flames added to their advantage. Kowalo drew a one-out walk and later scored on a wild pitch, upping Liberty’s lead to 8-3.
UConn plated two runs in the ninth on a two-run double by Melly for the final score of 8-5.
Carson Herndon picks up the win with 4 2/3 innings of relief to run his record to 2-0 on the year. After coming on to strikeout a batter with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, the senior right-hander scattered four runs on four hits. He struck out eight batters and walked three, coming within one strikeout of tying his career-high of nine.
UConn starter Anthony Kay drops to 1-1. He allowed seven runs on eight hits. He struck out five and walked two batters.
Liberty collected 11 hits in the contest, while UConn had seven hits.
The Huskies and Flames will meet again tomorrow at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.