Walk-Off Homer Puts No. 3 Liberty In Baseball Championship Game
HIGH POINT, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Trey Wimmer belted a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to send No. 3 Liberty to a walk-off, 4-3 win over No. 4 Gardner-Webb in Game 11 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. The Flames (41-18) win their bracket and advance to Saturday's "winner-take-all" Championship game against either No. 1 Coastal Carolina or No. 7 High Point at 4:00pm on ESPN3. Gardner-Webb falls to 32-28 and is eliminated from the tournament.
Down 3-2, Alex Close opened the Liberty ninth with a single to right. Bryan Aanderud sacrificed Close to second, and Tyler Cox grounded out to first to move Close to third. Wimmer then delivered the first pitch from GWU reliever Jeff Howell over the left field wall to send the Flames into the title game.
After a scoreless first inning, Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the second when Close walked and moved to second on Brock Wilson's wild pitch. Aanderud's groundout allowed Close to reach third. Cox singled to left to score Close and put the Flames on the scoreboard.
The Runnin' Bulldogs tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth on John Harris' leadoff solo home run over the right field wall. But the Flames came right back in the bottom half to regain the lead at 2-1. Michael Robertson reached on an error, moved to second on a wild pitch and came home on Aanderud's base hit.
The lead was short-lived as Gardner-Webb tied it again in the next inning. Scott Johnson walked with one out, and after Will Canady flied out, Benji Jackson singled to right to move Johnson to third. Liberty's Robertson bobbled the ball, allowing Johnson to come around with the tying run.
It remained 2-2 until the top of the eighth when Gardner-Webb moved ahead 3-2. With two outs, an error by Robertson in right field allowed Adam McFarland to reach second. Danny Yelverton came on to pinch-run for McFarland, and new Flames pitcher Jared Lyons gave up a single to Harris that scored Yelverton. Mike Marsh replaced Lyons and retired GWU's final four hitters to set-up the dramatic ninth inning.
Wimmer finished with two hits and two RBI, while Marsh was the winning pitcher. He allowed just one hit in 1.1 innings to move to1-1 on the year.
Harris led the Runnin' Bulldogs with his two hits and two RBI. Wilson got the no decision after allowing six hits, two runs (one earned) in six innings of work with four strikeouts. Howell (3-4) suffered the loss after going 2.2 innings and allowing the winning runs.
Liberty is the first No. 3 seed to reach the Big South Championship game since 2007, and it marks the Flames' first title game appearance in two years and their 10th overall -- second-most in Big South history.
Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman
"Just unbelievable! We battled ourselves throughout the game and to have Trey Wimmer come through is just fantastic. Gardner-Webb is a good team and it is great to get past them. I am proud of our guys and thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity."
Gardner-Webb Head Coach Rusty Stroupe
"This was a great college baseball game, we just happened to end up on the wrong side of the score. We played well and were able to do so this week. We came out and played four good games and played some of our best baseball at the end of the season. That's all you can ask for, and I'm very proud of that."