ROCK HILL, SC — Stifling starting pitching for the Flames quieted the Winthrop bats as Liberty took the series win with a 3-1 victory over the Eagles Sunday afternoon at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Liberty’s starter Trey Lambert (6-3) had a career-high nine strike outs on Sunday in his third complete game of the season. The Eagles managed to plate an early run in the first on an RBI single from Matt Lobacz, however, that is all Winthrop could manufacture as Lambert shut out the Eagles in the final eight innings of play. Lambert limited the Eagles to just six hits and allowed just one walk in nine innings pitched.
Sunday’s loss drops Winthrop to 15-27 (3-12 Big South) on the 2013 season while Liberty’s third straight series win over Winthrop improves its record to 22-19 (8-7 Big South). The Eagles now return home for a Tuesday match up with Wake Forest (23-20) at 6:00 p.m. at The Winthrop Ballpark.
The Eagles got things rolling in the first with two outs when junior outfielder Cody Dolan ripped a double to left field off Lambert. Lobacz followed with a base hit to left field bringing Dolan all the way around from second to score putting the Eagles on top 1-0. Liberty answered in the bottom half of the inning on Bryan Aanderud’s RBI ground out scoring Ashton Perritt to knot the game at 1-1.
Winthrop threatened in the top of the fourth with runners on second and third with one out but Lambert worked out of the jam striking out Chad Smith and getting Luke Maldonado to ground out. The Flames broke the 1-1 lock in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Alex Close to deep center scoring Ryan Cordell from third to take a 2-1 lead. Liberty capitalized on a pair of infield hits in the fifth and added to their lead when Perritt raced in to score from third on reliever Joey Strain’s wild pitch in the dirt to give the Flames a 3-1 advantage. That small cushion was all Lambert needed as he went out to retire 14 of the next 18 batters en route to the 3-1 win in the series finale.
Freshman Sam Kmiec (2-6) took the loss on the mound going 4.2 innings while allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out three. Joey Strain was called upon for the second straight game and worked two innings of scoreless relief while Eric Ruth contributed three strikeouts in 1.1 innings of shutout baseball.
Despite the low offensive output, Dolan and Lobacz stayed hot with a pair of hits each in Sunday afternoon’s game. Dolan has now hit safely in six consecutive games.