Yacyk collects career-high six RBI, but Liberty falls in ninth in opener

libertyLiberty designated hitter Andrew Yacyk’s second home run of the game in the top of the ninth innign gave the Flames a 10-9 lead. However, the South Florida Bulls rallied with two runs in the bottom of the inning for an 11-10 season-opening, walk-off victory, Friday evening at USF Baseball Stadium.

Yacyk drove in a career-high six runs with three hits, an RBI double and two home runs, one a grand slam. His two home runs equal his home run total of a year ago.

Flames freshman outfielder D.J. Artis went 4-for-5, scoring three runs in his first collegiate contest.

Liberty overcame a 6-0 deficit after two innings of play to tie the score at 6-6 on Yacyk’s grand slam in the top of the fifth, after which the teams traded the lead in the back-and-forth affair.

Liberty falls to 0-1 on the year. South Florida opens its season at 1-0.

The host Bulls struck for the first run of the contest in the bottom of the first inning. Second baseman Kevin Merrell singled to lead off the inning. After stealing second with one out, Merrell gave USF a 1-0 advantage, scoring on a single by right fielder Luke Maglich.

The Bulls added to their advantage with five runs in the second. With one out, center fielder Garrett Zech walked. Two batters later, freshman third baseman David Villar hit the first home run of his career over the left field wall for a 3-0 USF lead.

The next batter, Merrell drew a two-out walk and shortstop Coco Montes followed with a single. Maglich then lined an RBI single back through middle of the diamond for a 4-0 edge. After catcher Levi Borders walked, brother Luke Borders drove in two runs with a bases loaded single for a 6-0 lead.

Liberty got on the scoreboard with two runs in the fourth. Left fielder Artis opened the inning with a single and moved to third on a single by third baseman Dylan Allen. Two batters later, Yacyk ripped a double into the left field corner, scoring Artis with the Flames’ first run of the game. After first baseman Sammy Taormina walked to load the bases, Allen scored on a passed ball to make it 6-2, USF.

Liberty tied the contest in the top of the fifth on a grand slam by Yacyk. With one out, center fielder Aaron Stroosma reached on a fielding error by Bulls’ shortstop Montes and moved to second on an infield single by Artis. Two batters later, right fielder Will Shepherd reached on a two-out error by USF third baseman Villar to load the bases. Yacyk followed with a blast over the left field wall, knotting the contest at 6-6.

The Bulls regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back doubles by first baseman Les Stenkel and Zech provided USF with its first run of the frame. Later in the inning, an RBI single by Merrell gave the Bulls an 8-6 edge.

The Flames took their first lead of the night with three runs in the seventh. Artis singled and moved to second on a wild pitch to begin the frame. Allen followed with a single, advancing the runner to third. A wild pitch then allowed Artis to score, cutting the Bulls’ lead to one at 8-7. Three batters later, Taormina lined a double over the head of the left fielder to score Allen, tying the contest at 8-8. Shortstop Dalton Britt followed with a run-scoring single to give Liberty a 9-8 advantage.

USF knotted the game in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Villar doubled and scored on a single by Merrell to tie the contest at 9-9.

In the top of the ninth, Yacyk belted a solo home run over the left field fence to give the Flames a one-run lead, 10-9.

However, in the bottom of the inning, USF pushed across two, two-out runs for the walk-off win. With two outs and two men on, back-to-back walks tied the game at 10-10. After a Flames pitching change, Maglich fouled off two strikes, before lining a single inside the first base bag for the 11-10 win.

Liberty’s Cody Gamble drops to 0-1. The fourth of five pitchers for the Flames on the evening, Gamble gave up three runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

South Florida reliever Randy Valdes moves to 1-0. In three innings of relief, he allowed four runs on six hits. He struck out three and walked one.

USF Villar led the Bulls with four hits.

Liberty and USF will meet again tomorrow at USF Baseball Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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