Flames hold off Hokies for 7-6 victory
Wates triples twice and drives in three in loss
May 7, 2008

Box Score Liberty 7, VT 6
BLACKSBURG, Va. - Liberty University built a 7-0 lead, then held off a furious Virginia Tech rally to hand the Hokies a 7-6 non-conference loss at English Field on Wednesday night. The loss dropped Tech to 20-28 on the year, while the Flames improved to 26-23.

Liberty started building its lead early. The Flames used a Virginia Tech throwing error and back-to-back singles by third baseman Cody Brown and designated hitter Garrett Young to load the bases with no outs in the top of the second inning. Tech starting pitcher Sean McDermott (Walpole, Mass.) battled back to strike out Flames' left fielder Aaron Grijalva, and then coaxed center fielder Joseph Feeley to pop out to first baseman Sean O'Brien (Chappaqua, N.Y.) in foul territory. But just when it looked like the Hokie freshman left-hander was about to escape a big inning, Liberty nine-hole hitter Aaron Phillips poked a 1-1 McDermott offering over the left field fence to put Tech in a 4-0 hole.

The Flames extended their lead to 6-0 in the third, chasing McDermott in the process. Catcher Errol Hollinger started the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second on a wild throw by Tech third baseman Michael Seaborn (Atlanta, Ga.). Consecutive doubles by first baseman David Giammaresi and Brown led to runs before senior right-hander David Cross (Scottsdale, Ariz.) took the mound and retired the next two batters, leaving Brown stranded on second.

Cross and three other Tech relievers cooled the Liberty bats, allowing just one run on four hits over the final six innings. That one run, however, proved to be an important one. After Cross retired eight of the nine batters he faced over his 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, Liberty managed to manufacture a single run in the sixth inning against Hokie right-hander Kyle Cichy (Vineland, N.J.). Pinch-hitter Tim Rotola singled with two outs and moved to second on a wild pitch. Rotola then stole second base and came around to score what proved to be the winning run as the delivery from Cichy resulted in the second wild pitch of the inning.

Liberty starting pitcher Clarence Nicely cruised through 5.1 shutout innings, allowing just two base runners, while striking out 10 Tech batters. Things changed in the sixth inning, when a double by Hokie freshman catcher Chris Kay (Marietta, Ga.) combined with two walks by Nicely to load the bases with one out. Second baseman Austin Wates (Richmond, Va.) responded with a bases-clearing triple, and then scored the fourth run of the inning on a single by Seaborn. The triple was the second of the night for Wates, tying a Tech single-game record shared by 10 other players. It was the sixth three-bagger of the season for the Tech freshman and the most in a season for a Hokie since 2003 when Chris Stanton also had six.

Tech cut the Flames' lead to 7-6 with a pair of runs in the seventh inning. Left fielder Steve Bumby (Cockeysville, Md.) singled to start the inning and came all the way around to score on a double by right fielder Klint Reed (Chesterfield, Va.). Junior center fielder Sean Ryan (Ashburn, Va.) singled home Reed for the second run.

The Hokies got the tying run in scoring position during the eighth inning when Wates singled and used his 15th steal of the season to take second base. Pinch-hitter Jose Cueto (Miami, Fla.) struck out to end the inning and the Hokies went down quietly in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Nicely to secure his fourth win of the season against just one loss. Stephen Evans, who worked the final two innings for the Flames, posted his second save of the season.

McDermott was saddled with the loss, falling to 1-5 on the season. Tech finished with nine hits, fueled by Wates' 3-for-4 outing that included three RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base. Liberty posted 10 hits, getting two each from Brown, Phillips, Giammaresi and Rotola.

The Hokies are scheduled to return to Atlantic Coast Conference play on Friday when they open a three-game home series against No. 1 ranked Miami at English Field. The first pitch for Friday's opener is set for 5:30 p.m.