Virginia Tech’s five-run fifth dooms Liberty

liberty baseballA five-run fifth inning helped propel the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies past the Liberty Flames, 11-5, Wednesday evening at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

After the Flames plated two runs in the second and two in the third to take a 4-3 lead, the Hokies scored five runs on five hits, including back-to-back home runs by left fielder Tom Stoffel and first baseman Sam Fragale to take an 8-4 advantage on their way to the victory.

The first of five consecutive non-conference games, Liberty falls to 26-17 overall. Virginia Tech moves to 20-26. The two teams split their season series, as each team won on the other’s home field. Liberty took a 4-3 victory in 10 innings from the Hokies on March 27 at Union Ballpark.

Virginia Tech jumped out to a 3-0 in the game’s opening inning. Stoffel led off the contest with a single and advanced to third on a single by Fragale. Designated hitter JD Munday followed with sacrifice fly, plating Stoffel for a 1-0 edge. After shortstop Nick Owen was hit by a pitch with two out, third baseman Michael Fernandez dropped a two-run single into left to give the Hokies an early three-run cushion.

Liberty whittled the Virginia Tech advantage to one in the second. Catcher Jonathan Embry, who had two hits and scored two runs, opened the bottom half of the inning with a single. Two batters later, first baseman Dylan Allen lined a double into the right field corner. Embry then scored on a ground out by right fielder Brandon Rohrer for the Flames’ first run of the evening. Second baseman Ben Highfill followed with a run-scoring single, cutting the Hokies’ edge to 3-2.

The Flames went in front in the third. Left fielder Tre Todd walked to begin the inning and two batters later, advanced to second on a ground out by third baseman Tyler Galazin. Embry followed with a RBI double, tying the game at 3-3. Shortstop Cam Locklear then singled through the left side of the infield, scoring Embry for a 4-3 advantage.

Virginia Tech took a commanding lead in the fifth. With one out, Fernandez singled. Two batters, catcher Andrew Webb singled advancing Fernandez to third. After second baseman Jojo Odachowski followed with RBI single, knotting the contest at 4-4, Stoffel belted his seventh home run of the season. Fragle then ripped his seventh of the year for an 8-4 lead.

In the fifth, Hokie right fielder Stevie Mangram led off the inning with his sixth home run of the year for a 9-4 edge. Later, Virginia Tech tacked on two unearned runs in the top of the ninth for an 11-4 advantage.

Liberty pushed across a run in the bottom of the ninth. Highfill walked and moved to second on a single by center fielder D.J. Artis. After moving to third on a ground out by Todd, Highfill scored on a ground out by designated hitter Logan Mathieu for the final ledger of 11-5.

Virginia Tech right-hander Joey Sullivan evens his record at 3-3 on the year. The reliever allowed one run on no hits over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Liberty starting pitcher Vinnie Tarantola falls to 0-1. The left-hander gave up eight runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out one.

The Hokies outhit the Flames, 15-8. Each team committed one error.

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