Max Vogel's RBI sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Drew Hardee as the Winthrop Eagles picked up a 6-5 Big South Conference victory over the Liberty Flames on Saturday afternoon at The Winthrop Ballpark.
The Eagles improve to 12-24 on the season and 5-6 in the conference, while the Flames fall to 29-9, 8-3.
Austin Stuart (2-1) earned the win in relief, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings on one hit, no walks and one strikeout. Matt Marsh (0-1) earned the loss allowing one run on two hits, one walk and three strikeouts in 2.2 innings of relief. Preston Johnson also tied his career of six strikeouts in 3.2 relief innings, which he set against Valparaiso on Mar. 12.
The RBI sacrifice fly by Vogel in the ninth capped a two-run rally for Winthrop as it entered the sixth inning trailing by a score of 5-4. Leighton Daniels started things for the Eagles in the sixth with a single to left field and went to third on a hit-and-run single by Tyler Donovan, and then scored on Jason Driver's RBI single to left field to tie the contest at 5-5.
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Matt Lobacz began the bottom of the ninth for Winthrop with a single to right center field, and Hardee came on to pinch-run for him as Patrick Bankemper came in to pitch for Marsh. TJ Olesczuk followed with a single to right field, and Chas Crane advanced both runners into scoring position on his sacrifice bunt to third base. Vogel came into the game as a pinch hitter two batters later after an intentional walk to Chad Smith, and delivered his second straight game-winning hit of the season. He collected the game-winning RBI as a pinch-hitter on Apr. 7 in the Eagles 6-5 win in game one of a doubleheader at VMI.
Winthrop took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Driver came home on a wild pitch by Liberty starting pitcher Patrick Eckelbarger. Driver started the inning for the Eagles with a double to right center field and went to third on Justin Hopper's sacrifice bunt. The Flames tied the game at 1 in the top of the second on an RBI single by Dalton Sype to right field.
Winthrop then regained the lead at 4-1 after a three-run third inning with Patrick Gamblin collecting an RBI double, while Lobacz and Olesczuk added an RBI each. Liberty responded with four runs of its own in the top of the fourth to go back on top 5-4. The four-run inning was highlighted by a two RBI double by Ian Parmley, and Zack Haley also had an RBI single.
Hopper tied his career-high of three hits to lead the Eagles offensively, while five different players recorded one RBI each. The Flames had six players with two hits apiece on the afternoon, and Parmley drove in a team-high two RBI.
Winthrop and Liberty will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m.
WP: Stuart (2-1), LP: Marsh (0-1). Leading hitters: Liberty: Parmley (2-5, 2 RBI), Haley (2-5, RBI), Cox (2-4), Cordell (2-4), Sizemore (2-4), Sype (2-3, RBI). Winthrop: Driver (2-4, RBI), Hopper (3-4), Olesczuk (2-5, RBI), Donovan (2-3).