Presbyterian tops Liberty on ninth-inning home run, 7-6

liberty baseballThird baseman Tannor Byrd led off the bottom of the ninth inning with his second home run of the game, as the Presbyterian Blue Hose nipped the Liberty Flames, 7-6, Friday afternoon in a Big South Conference contest at PC Baseball Complex.

In a back-and-forth contest which saw the scored tied on four different occasions, Byrd, who also homered in the second, opened the home half of the inning by working a full count. He then lining his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall for the Blue Hose victory.

The Flames had tied the game in the top of the eighth, as third baseman Trey McDyre, who had three hits in the game, singled with two outs to knot the game at 7-7.

Liberty falls to 14-11 overall and 4-4 in Big South play. Presbyterian improves to 9-19 overall and 4-4 in conference play. With the win, the Blue Hose have taken the first two games of the series.

Liberty raced out to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the first, only to see Presbyterian answer with three in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder D.J. Artis led off the game with a double and moved to third on an infield single by McDyre. Catcher Tre Todd followed with a fielder’s choice grounder to plate Artis for a 1-0 edge. Two batters later, designated hitter Logan Mathieu roped a two-out RBI single back through the middle of the diamond to make it 2-0 Flames. After third baseman Tyler Galazin was hit by a pitch to keep the inning alive, shortstop Cam Locklear dumped a run-scoring single into right for a 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the opening frame, shortstop Andrew Bladt singled and second baseman Jonathan White singled with one out. Left fielder A.J. Priaulx followed with his third home run of the season, tying the contest at 3-3.

The Blue Hose took the lead on another home run in the second. Byrd connected on his third home run of the year with a runner aboard, giving Presbyterian a 5-3 edge.

Liberty went back in front in the fourth. Left fielder Jonathan Embry walked and right fielder Brandon Rohrer was hit by a pitch to open the inning. After Artis reached on a fielder’s choice, McDyre dropped a single into left to score Embry, cutting the Flames’ deficit to one, 5-4. Todd followed with a liner to right for single to plate Artis, knotting the game at 5-5. After a Presbyterian pitching change, first baseman Dylan Allen delivered an RBI single for a 6-5 edge.

The Blue Hose tied the game in the fifth. Byrd, who had three hits in the contest, began the home half of the inning with a double and center fielder Nick Guimbarda and Bladt walked to load the bases. Left-hander Vinnie Tarantola was summoned from the Liberty bullpen and promptly walked White, forcing in a run and deadlocking the game at 6-6. However, Tarantola minimalized the damage as he got the Big South’s leading hitter Priaulx to pop out to shortstop and induced designated hitter Jack McLaughlin to ground into an inning-ending double play to end the threat and the inning.

Presbyterian took its second lead of the contest in the seventh. With one out, Guimbarda and Bladt both walked, prompting a Liberty pitching change. White followed with a single to center field off new Liberty pitcher Andrew Stout, which Flames’ center fielder Artis misplayed, allowing Guimbarda to score for a 7-6 edge.

The one-run Blue Hose advantage was short-lived. Liberty plated a two-out run in the eighth to knot the contest again. Artis drew a two-out walk and stole second. McDyre followed with a single to bring home Artis to tie the game again, this time at 7-7.

In the top of the ninth, Liberty moved the go-ahead run to second with one out, but could not push a run across.

Stout drops to 0-2 on the season. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits over 1 2/3-plus innings. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.

Presbyterian’s Ryan Hendrick moves to 1-0. He gave up two hits over 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Liberty outhit Presbyterian, 10-8. Each team committed an error.

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