HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University baseball team surrendered three runs in the top of the ninth inning to fall by one, 5-4, to conference rival Liberty in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon at Williard Stadium. Junior Kyle Brandenburg went 2-2 and reached base four times in the loss.
The Panthers came within a strike of closing out the game in the top of the ninth as redshirt-junior Jaime Schultz had two strikes on LU’s Bryan Aanderud with two runners on. The Liberty second baseman managed to hit a ground ball past Brandenburg to score one and the second run scored on a fielding error by sophomore Mike Miedzianowski. Ryan Cordell followed with a double to the right field corner to score Aanderud and put the Flames ahead, 5-4.
High Point loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but was unable to score as a line drive into the left-center gap by senior Willie Medina was caught with an over-the-shoulder diving catch by Liberty left fielder Nick Lacik. The Panthers loaded the bases with singles by seniors Scott Glover and Devin Bujnovsky and a hit-by-pitch by Brandenburg.
The Flames scored the first run of the game in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Trey Wimmer and held a 1-0 advantage until the Panthers scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead, 2-1. Senior Ryan Retz led off the sixth with a walk and scored from third on a pinch-hit single by freshman Brett Gemmell. Sophomore Dane McDermott pinch-ran for Gemmell , advanced to second on a throwing error by the shortstop and scored on a single through the left side by Brandenburg.
Liberty tied the game with a run in the top of the seventh on a double play, but High Point came right back to score twice in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-RBI single by senior Sean Wilson to go ahead, 4-2. Brandenburg hit a single to left and was followed by Medina who reached on a throwing error by the LU third baseman, The error allowed both base runners to advance to second and third respectively. Wilson took two pitches before hitting a single to left to score both runners.
Brandenburg went 2-2 in the game with an RBI and a run scored and was twice hit by a pitch. Wilson finished 2-5 with two RBI while Retz went 2-4 with a run scored.
Schultz took the loss for High Point after pitching 2-1/3 innings and surrendering three earned runs on two hits and two walks. Senior Jacob Newberry started for the Panthers and pitched 6-2/3 innings. Newberry surrendered just two earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out five.
Liberty reliever Josh Richardson picked up the win for the Flames. Richardson pitched 2-1/3 innings and allowed two unearned runs on five hits. Ashton Perritt was given a save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning. Liberty starter Carson Herndon pitched 5-1/3 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and two walks.
The loss drops High Point to 10-12 overall and 0-4 in the Big South. Liberty improves to 15-7 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
The Panthers and Flames will play the second game of their Friday doubleheader in Williard Stadium at 6:30 p.m., at Williard Stadum.