Radford University’s baseball team was unable to avoid being swept on their home field for the first time since April 2016 as a seven-run fourth inning guided Liberty to a 13-3 sweeping victory as the Flames avenged Tuesday’s extra inning loss to the Highlanders.
Liberty pumped out 19 hits, using a seven-run fourth inning to blow the game wide open. Of the 19 hits, 15 came of the single variety.
Radford starter Kyle Zurak stranded three runners in the first two innings, including two in scoring position in the second inning.
The bottom half of the second saw Matt Roth line a two-out single to center field, later advancing on a wild pitch. Straton Podaras followed with a single to left as Roth rounded third, racing for home. Jake Barbee threw a bullet from left field to home plate on a line as Matt Allen made the tag on Roth.
Zurak used a 5-4-3 double play to erase the first two batters in the top of the third. Fresh off the defensive gem, Barbee singled to center, advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch. Sammy Taormina gave Liberty the first run of the game on a RBI single.
The Flames’ big fourth inning started with a Will Shepherd leadoff home run to straight away center field. Liberty would go on the load the bases and Andrew Kowalo made the Highlanders pay with a grand slam to left field for the second home run of the inning.
The inning saw the Flames bat around, tallying six hits. Also, providing RBIs in the inning, D.J. Artis and Taormina drove in runs via singles.
Radford answered the seven-run inning with two of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Danny Hrbek led off the inning with a check swing bloop double down the left field line, later scoring on a Jonathan Gonzalez RBI double.
The second run of the inning came on a throwing error by the Liberty shortstop as Cody Schneider reached on an infield single, but the errant throw past the first baseman allowed Gonzalez to score from second.
After adding its ninth run in the fifth, Liberty plated three more runs in the seventh on a two-run double off the bat of Barbee and a one-run double from Taormina.
Luke Wise’s third hit of the game led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to right center field. Kyle Butler drove in the final Radford run with a single to left field.
Swinging a hot bat throughout the series, Taormina drove in his fourth run of the game and eighth of the series on a single to right field in the ninth as the redshirt senior collected back-to-back games of four-RBIs.
Butler collected his second hit of the game in the bottom of the ninth on a double down the left field line, but the Highlanders were unable to push across another run, dropping the series finale 13-3.
A day removed from committing 10 errors in the doubleheader, Radford played its seventh error free game of the season.
In the series, Liberty plated 28 runs on 35 hits. Radford scored eight runs on 27 hits. Liberty’s 19 hits in the contest eclipsed its previous high of 14 in a 17-3 win at Charleston Southern on March 25 and allowed the Flames to sweep their first three-game series of 2017.
The Highlanders left 21 runners on base, compared to Liberty’s 30. Luke Wise led the Highlanders with a 3 for 5 performance, collecting his fifth multi-hit game of the season and second three-hit game. Wise went 5 for 10 at the plate with one run scored and double in the series.
Kyle Butler was the only other Highlander with double-digit hits, finishing with his ninth two-hit game of the season and 12th multi-hit game.
Radford tallied a season-high five doubles. The Highlanders now have 52 two-baggers on the season, which ranks seventh in the league.
Six different Liberty batters collected multi-hit games, including four with three-plus hit games.
John Brocklebank tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless and hitless baseball, the only Radford pitch to not allow a hit or run.
— Courtesy of RU Athletics