LYNCHBURG, Va. – Gardner-Webb scored three runs in the sixth and another in the top of the ninth Sunday, but fell 10-7 at Liberty in the finale of a three-game Big South Conference series.
The Diamond ‘Dogs (20-23, 7-11 Big South) trimmed the lead to 10-6 with its effort in the sixth inning, using a solo home run from Jake Watts and a two-run shot by Josh Drewery to fuel the rally. GWU had a golden chance to pull closer after three consecutive two-out singles by Ty Boyles, Benji Jackson and Daniel Merck – but stranded all three men.
A solo home run by Kurt Fulginiti to lead off the ninth pulled GWU to within 10-7 and Drewery was hit by a pitch with two outs to put another man on board. Liberty (32-12, 15-3 Big South) was able to close the door, however, and lengthen its lead on second place in the league standings.
The Flames burst onto the scoreboard early Sunday, touching GWU starter Adam Izokovic for eight runs in the second inning. Izokovic, normally the Bulldogs’ closer, was making his first start of the season.
That rally by Liberty erased what had been a 3-0 lead for Gardner-Webb, which the Bulldogs earned in the top of the first. Liberty added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Gardner-Webb out-hit the Flames 14-11, with Merck, Adam McFarland, Fulginiti, Boyles and Jackson lead the way with two hits apiece. Nine different GWU players collected at least one hit in the game.
Izokovic (5-3) took the loss, working 3.0 innings and allowing eight earned runs on 10 hits. Freshmen Brandon Boling and Jeff Howell kept GWU in the game late, hurling scoreless frames in the seventh, eighth and ninth.
Liberty was paced by P.J. Jimenez who went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI. Former All-Big South hurler Dustin Umberger (1-2) picked up his first win of the season, working 5.2 innings and scattering nine hits and six runs.
Gardner-Webb will step out of conference to travel to Appalachian State this Wednesday night.