No. 3 Liberty Defeats No. 6 UNC Asheville, 9-2
HIGH POINT, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Catcher Trey Wimmer had a season-high four RBI and pitcher John Niggli allowed one run in seven innings to lead No. 3 Liberty to a 9-2 victory over No. 6 UNC Asheville in Game 3 of the 2012 Big South Baseball Championship presented by Brookwood Farms BBQ and Triangle Rent A Car at Williard Stadium on the campus of High Point University. Liberty improves to 39-18 and plays the winner of No. 2 Campbell-No. 7 High Point Wednesday evening. The Bulldogs fall to 25-29 and will play the loser of CU-HPU in an elimination game Wednesday afternoon.
Liberty got on the scoreboard first with two runs in the bottom of the second. Bryan Aanderud reached on an error to open the frame, stole second and moved to third on Tyler Cox's single up the middle. Cox stole second to put runners at second and third, and Wimmer singled to the gap in left-center to score Aanderud and Cox for the early 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the third, Alex Close belted a two-run home run to make it 4-0. It was his 13th home run of the season, tying the Big South freshman record and breaking the Liberty school freshman record of 12 set by Pat Sipe in 1983. The Flames stretched their lead to 5-0 in the fourth as Ian Parmley's bunt single brought home Dalton Sype, who had singled with one out and reached second on a wild pitch.
Through the first six innings, Niggli held UNC Asheville scoreless and to just four hits. But in the seventh, Asheville scored its first run to cut the Flames lead to 5-1. With two outs, Ian Graham doubled down the left field line and moved to third on Niggli's wild pitch. Hunter Bryant walked to put runners at the corners, and Eli Miller singled to plate Graham.
Liberty immediately countered with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to move ahead 9-1. The Bulldogs plated a run in the top of the ninth for the final margin.
Liberty finished with 15 hits, its most in a Big South Tournament game since 20 vs. High Point on May 21, 2009. Sype led the way with three hits, while Wimmer, Cox and Andy Smith each had two. Niggli improves to 9-3 after scattering six hits in seven innings with four strikeouts.
Graham and Miller had two of Asheville's seven hits on the day. Dean Roland started for UNC Asheville and suffered the loss to fall to 5-6. He allowed nine hits, five runs (four earned) and struck three in five innings.
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman
"We faced a quality pitcher and team that was hot down the stretch. Getting the win was a great start for us here. The guys played well and I thank the Lord for helping come through in great shape for tomorrow."
UNC Asheville Head Coach Tom Smith
"For a good part of the game there was too much John Niggli. Their bats responded as well and they knocked around a pretty good pitcher (Dean Roland). We put ourselves in a pretty big hole and couldn't dig ourselves out."