No. 13 North Carolina drops Liberty
Liberty first baseman Dylan Allen collected two hits and drove in four runs, while designated hitter Andrew Yacyk had two hits and belted his first home run of the year in the contest.
Liberty took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning, before North Carolina broke the game open with 10 runs in the bottom of the inning.
Liberty drops to 6-5. The Flames have lost four straight, all road contests. North Carolina, winners of four straight games, sweeps the three-game series between the two teams and moves to 7-5 on the year.
Liberty jumped on the scoreboard with a run in its opening at bat. Striking with two outs, left fielder Tre Todd singled to left. Allen followed with a double into the right field corner for a 1-0 edge.
North Carolina answered in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of a Flames error. Left fielder Dallas Tressar walked to open the home half of the first inning. An errant pickoff attempt by Liberty pitcher Brady Stamper allowed Tressar to move all the way to third. Third baseman Kyle Datres then dumped a one-out single through the left side of the infield, plating Tressar and tying the game at 1-1.
In the top of the second, Yacyk gave the Flames a 2-1 edge. With one out, Yacyk deposited a 2-2 pitch from Tar Heel starting pitcher Caden O’Brien over the left field wall for a one-run lead.
Liberty extended its edge with a tally in the third. Center fielder D.J. Artis, who had two hits in the contest, led off the inning with a double into the right-center field gap and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Jonathan Embry. After Todd walked, Allen followed with a sacrifice fly to score Artis and give the Flames a 3-1 advantage.
North Carolina batted around in fourth to take the lead. Datres singled and first baseman Michael Busch walked to open the home half of the frame. After both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Cody Roberts, Datres scored the first run of the inning on a passed ball and right fielder Ashton McGee knotted the game at 3-3 with a RBI single. Designated hitter Brandon Martorano followed with a RBI double to give the Tar Heels a 4-3 edge. North Carolina went on to score six more times in the inning, scoring on a double, a sacrifice fly, a wild pitch, and three bases-loaded walks for an 11-3 lead.
The Flames answered with three runs in the fifth. Shortstop Cam Locklear led off the inning with a double and Artis walked. Embry followed with a double to plate Locklear with the first run of the frame. Allen then doubled home Artis and Embry, cutting into Liberty’s deficit.
In the top of the sixth, the Flames pushed across a run. Locklear walked, Artis singled and Embry walked to load the bases. Todd then walked to force in a run to make it 11-7, Tar Heels. However, North Carolina reliever Joe Hiatt got a shallow fly ball and an inning-ending double play to prevent any further Liberty scoring.
Tar Heel Brandon Riley hit his second home run of year in the bottom of the sixth and teammate Martorano hit his fourth in the bottom of the seventh.
The Flames made it, 13-8, with a run in the ninth. Locklear, who had two hits in the contest, singled to drive home pinch hitter E.P. Reese for what proved to be the final score.
Liberty’s Stamper falls to 1-1 on the year. The first of four Flames pitchers in the contest, the freshman right-hander allowed eight runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three batters.
North Carolina Taylor Sugg moves to 1-0. He gave up three runs on two hits over 1 1/3 innings in relief of O’Brien. He struck out two and walked one.
Liberty collected 12 hits and committed the only two errors in the contest. North Carolina had 10 hits.