Columbia, S.C. – Liberty scored twice in the top of the fourth inning and held off a late rally by fifth ranked South Carolina to upend the Gamecocks 3-2 in the final game of a doubleheader on Sunday played in seven innings at Carolina Stadium. Despite the loss, the Gamecocks won the series and are now 2-1 on the year with Liberty 1-2 after the first weekend of play.
The Flames got three big hits in the nightcap with Ryan Cordell and Dalton Britt each tallying triples and Justin Sizemore going 2-for-3 with a solo homer. Joey Pankake was 2-for-2 with a run scored and a RBI in the loss for the Gamecocks. Graham Saiko also had two hits for Carolina.
Liberty starter Trey Lambert earned the win after allowing just one run on five hits in 5.1 innings with one walk and four strikeouts. South Carolina starter Nolan Belcher suffered the loss after going 5.2 innings allowing three runs on four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. The nine strikeouts are the most for Belcher in a game since he struck out 11 on May, 15 2009 in a win over Georgia as a freshman.
Liberty would break out with a run in the top of the first inning. Cordell tripled to right-center as his ball went just out of the grasp of Gamecock center fielder Tanner English. He would score on a RBI infield single by Bryan Aanderud in between third and shortstop.
The Gamecocks tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning. English led off with a single followed by a base hit off the bat of Graham Saiko. Pankake would drive in English with one-out on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Liberty regained the lead in the top of the fourth inning on a solo home run by Justin Sizemore. The Liberty left fielder knocked a 1-1 pitch from Gamecock starter Nolan Belcher over the left field wall. Liberty then added to it as Trey Wimmer walked with two outs and scored on Dalton Britt’s triple to right-center that increased the lead to 3-1.
Carolina crept to within a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pankake doubled to open the frame and scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Erik Payne to right field. The Gamecocks threatened to tie it in the bottom of the seventh. TJ Costen led off with a walk. He, however, would be gunned down at second base on a sac bunt attempt by Tanner English. The Gamecocks then tried to move the runners with a hit and run but Liberty reliever Ashton Perritt was able to throw a fastball by Saiko and catcher Trey Wimmer was able to nab English at second base to end the Carolina threat.
South Carolina returns to action next weekend hosting a three-game series with Albany at Carolina Stadium. First pitch for the opener on Friday is 3 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday’s contests at 1:30 p.m. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network including flagship station 107.5 FM, “The Game.” Live video streaming is also available at GamecocksOnline.com.