LYNCHBURG, Va. – The High Point University baseball team fell to Liberty University by a score of 6-4 in the series opener on Friday night in Lynchburg, Va. Freshman Josh Greene went 3-5 with a run scored for the Panthers.
“We came out and scored four quick runs then we just shut down offensively,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “Somebody needs to step up and get a hit when it really matters. That’s what I’m waiting for from this team. As soon as we learn to do something in RBI situations this team is going to go on a run.”
Junior John McGillicuddy dropped to 2-2 on the season with the loss to the Flames. McGillicuddy pitched 6-2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out five.
Trey Lambert picked up the win for Liberty after pitching 6-1/3 innings and allowing four earned runs on 12 hits and a walk while striking out three. Ashton Perritt earned his seventh save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning in which he allowed one hit and struck out two.
The Panthers dropped to 12-9 overall and 2-2 in the Big South with the loss. Liberty improved to 16-7 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
High Point jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the top of the first inning. Junior Josh Spano singled up the mddle and was followed by Greene who doubled to the left field corner, giving HPU runners at second and third. Junior Spencer Angelis hit a single through the left side to drive in Spano and freshman Brenden Rivera hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Greene, putting the Panthers up 2-0.
After Liberty plated one run in the bottom of the frame to make the score 2-1, High Point came right back with two runs in the second to go up 4-1. Singles by juniors Tony Fortier-Bensen and Dane McDermott put runners on the corners with one out for Spano who drive in the first run with a single through the left side. Greene picked up the Panthers fourth single of the inning to load the bases for Angelis who drove in the second run with a slow roller to short.
The Flames scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-4 lead in the game. A leadoff walk and a double just inside the third-base line by Alex Close put runners at second and third with no outs. Danny Grauer hit a triple to drive in both runners then scored on a double to left by Dylan Allen. Back-to-back fly balls drove in Allen from second for the final run of the frame.
Liberty added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. After two quick outs, Becker Sankey was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a triple to the right field corner by Dalton Britt.
Down two runs in the ninth, HPU loaded the bases with one out by freshman Chris Clare struck out swinging and sophomore Tim Mansfield grounded out to the LU shortstop behind the second base bag to end the game.
McDermott, Spano, Angelis and Fortier-Bensen all recorded two hits in the game for High Point. Angelis finished with two RBI while Spano had an RBI and a run scored.
High Point and Liberty will play the second game of their three-game series on Saturday, March 22, in Lynchburg, Va. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.