Third baseman Clay Keranen had two hits and a RBI and the No. 22 Liberty Flames held off a ninth-inning rally by the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, en route to a 2-1 win, Sunday afternoon at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Keranen, who received his first start since March 19 and at third base this season, collected two hit and drove in a run, helping the Flames build a 2-0 lead.
In the ninth inning, the visiting Chanticleers cut the Liberty advantage to 2-1 and loaded the bases with two out. However, right-hander Matt Marsh struck out Coastal Carolina first baseman Connor Owings to seal the 2-1 victory.
Liberty moves to 38-11 overall and 22-1 in Big South Conference play. The Flames have swept their last seven Big South Conference series and have won 20 straight conference games. Liberty’s 22-1 conference record is the best of any Division I team in conference play this season.
Coastal Carolina drops to 22-28 overall and 12-12 in the conference action.
Liberty struck for the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, second baseman Ryan Seiz singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Becker Sankey. First baseman Alex Close followed with a single to plate Seiz for a 1-0 edge.
The Flames extended their advantage in the fifth inning. Center fielder Ashton Perritt singled to right field and stole second base. Two batters later, Keranen singled sharply through the right side of the infield to score Perritt for a 2-0 lead.
In the ninth, the Chanticleers mounted a two-out rally. Third baseman Nick Oberg walked and moved to second on a single by center fielder Anthony Marks against Liberty reliever Shawn Clowers. Second baseman Jake Kane followed with a run-scoring single, cutting the Flames’ advantage to 2-1.
Marsh was then summoned from the bullpen and walked shortstop Michael Paez to load bases and move the tying run to third base, before striking out Owings to end the contest.
Liberty starting pitcher Parker Bean moves to 7-1 on the year. The right-hander pitched five scoreless innings, allowing three hits. He struck out seven batters and walked five. The freshman pitched out of a base-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning.
Clowers took over in the fifth and gave up one run on three hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out six batters and walked one. Marsh struck out one and walked one to earn his second save of the season. The senior right-hander also picked up the save in Liberty’s 4-3 victory over the Chanticleers, Saturday night.
Liberty’s pitching combined to strikeout 13 Chanticleers and stranded 11 base runners in the game.
Coastal Carolina starter Cole Schaefer falls to 3-4 on the season. The freshman right-hander allowed one run on four hits over the first four innings. One of three Chanticleers to pitch in the contest, he struck out two and walked one batter.
Liberty collected eight hits on the afternoon. Besides Keranen, Close and Seiz had two hits each for the Flames. Coastal Carolina managed six hits. Designated hitter Riley Norton had two hits for the Chanticleers.
Liberty next finishes it 2014 regular season home schedule on Tuesday. The Flames will host the Elon Phoenix for a non-conference game at Liberty Baseball Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.