CLINTON, S.C. – The Presbyterian College baseball team (19-18, 5-8 Big South) fell to Big South foe Liberty (21-19, 7-6 Big South), 4-2, on a rain-soaked Friday afternoon at the PC Baseball Complex in Clinton, S.C. The two return for game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Both starting pitchers battled for much of the game, allowing just a combined nine hits in the contest. Liberty starter Evan Mitchell (2-4) earned the victory with a complete game performance, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with three walks against a season-high-tying eight strikeouts. PC starter Brian Kehner (4-4) suffered the loss, going 7.1 innings and allowing four runs on four hits with no walks and a pair of strikeouts. Aaron Lesiak was the only reliever used in the game, going 1.2 scoreless and hitless innings for PC.
Glen Casaceli led the Blue Hose at the plate with a 2-for-4 afternoon with a double and a run. AJ Priaulx had a ninth-inning, pinch-hit RBI double, Tyler Weyenberg went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Brett Auckland was 1-for-2 with two walks out of the leadoff spot for PC.
PC struck first with a lone run in the bottom half of the third inning. Casaceli singled to right center with two outs and Auckland drew a walk to put two on. After both runners were able to advance on a wild pitch, Weston Jackson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Weyenberg would capitalize with an RBI single to right to score Casaceli but Auckland would be thrown out trying to score, 9-2, to end the inning.
Liberty tied the game in the sixth with a solo home run to left center from Andrew Kowalo for the Flames first hit of the game. Before the homer, Kehner had retired 14 of the 15 batters he had faced with the lone base runner reaching on a hit-by-pitch.
The Flames extended the lead with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh, all via the home run. Jack Morris hit a solo home run to left field in the seventh to make it a 2-1 lead. In the eighth, after a leadoff double by Andrew Yacyk, Payton Scarbrough hit a two-run home run to left to push the lead to 4-2.
The Blue Hose would not go quietly, though, threatening a rally in the ninth. Jacob Midkiff reached on a two-base throwing error to put a runner at second with no outs to start the frame. Priaulx then narrowly missed a home run with a deep drive to right center to score him and cut the lead to 4-2 with no outs. Mitchell would respond to retire the next three batters in order and preserve the victory for the Flames.