Radford Upsets Liberty, 15-4

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DANVILLE, Va. – Radford broke its single-game Conference tournament record for runs scored and Adam Hoyt pitched seven strong innings to lead the No. 6 seed Highlanders to a 15-4 upset win over No. 2 seed Liberty in Game 2 of the 2008 Royal Purple Big South Conference Baseball Championship, May 21 at Dan Daniel Memorial Park in Danville, Va.  With the victory, Radford improves to 24-30 and advances to play the winner of No. 3 VMI-No. 4 Winthrop Thursday at 7:00pm.  Liberty falls to 31-25-1 and moves to the loser’s bracket, where the Flames will face No. 8 UNC Asheville in an elimination game Thursday at 11:00am.

Radford exploded for an early 7-0 lead after four innings.  In the first, Alex Gregory lined a two-out single up the middle and moved to second on Reggie Keen’s hit-by-pitch.  An infield error loaded the bases and Liberty starter David Stokes (8-5) walked Jonathan Spears to force in Gregory.  The next inning, Nachion Moore reached on an infield single and was sacrificed to second by Will NaylorTyren Rivers followed with a single up the middle to plate Moore.

The Highlanders added three runs in the third inning, and plated two more in the fourth.  With two outs in the third, Nick Minter and Spears reached on consecutive singles.  Ben Toth singled home Minter, and then both Toth and Spears scored on an error on Liberty catcher Errol Hollinger.  In the fourth frame, Gregory scored Naylor on a sacrifice fly and Keen scored Rivers with a single.  Radford added runs in the fifth and sixth innings to move ahead 9-0.

Radford starter Adam Hoyt (6-5) blanked Liberty through the first six innings, allowing just four hits in that span.  But in the seventh, Liberty tagged Hoyt for two hits and three runs in cutting the deficit to 9-3.  The Flames loaded the bases on a Garrett Young walk, Joseph Feeley single and Aaron Phillips’ hit-by-pitch.  After Kenneth Negron lined out to short for the second out, Hollinger brought home all three runners with a bases-clearing double down the left field line.

But the Highlanders stormed back with a six-run eighth inning to increase their lead to 15-3.  Liberty’s Cody Brown belted a solo home run to straightaway center field in the bottom of the eighth for the final margin.

Ben Toth led Radford’s 17-hit attack with a four hits, tying his career high.  Gregory went 3-for-4 to raise his Big South-leading batting average to .404.  He also knocked in three runs.  Rivers, Keen and Naylor each posted two hits in the winning cause.  Brown had three of Liberty’s nine hits, including his eighth home run of the season.

Stokes lasted just five innings on the hill for the Flames.  He allowed seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits and struck out five.  Hoyt scattered six hits in his seven innings with his only blemish being the three-run outburst in the seventh inning.  

Liberty was without head coach Jim Toman, who was ejected in the top of the second inning.

For the second time in school history, the Highlanders have won two games in the Big South baseball tournament.  In 1993, the Highlanders won three times en route to its lone championship game appearance.  Radford also bettered its previous single-game Conference tournament best of 11 runs scored against Liberty in the 1993 tournament.  Coupled with Coastal Carolina’s 20-run performance earlier in the day, it is the first time in Big South baseball tournament history that two games featured at least 15 runs by one team.

Radford Head Coach Joe Raccuia
“That was a great win by our ballclub today; we played with a lot of energy for three hours.  We executed, played very fast, played flawless defense and Adam Hoyt gave us seven solid innings.”

Liberty Assistant Coach Scott Jackson
“Congratulations to Radford on the victory.  They executed in all facets of the game, while we just had a tough day.  Hopefully, we can get them tomorrow.”