Liberty upsets Camels for Big South title
Liberty scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, on Ashton Perritt's one-out single plating Alex Close, to beat top-seeded Campbell 2-1 in the championship game of the Big South Conference tournament at Liberty Saturday afternoon.
The No. 5-seeded Flames (34-27) won their fifth straight elimination game after dropping a 6-3 game to Radford on the first day of the tournament Tuesday. The one-run win also came a couple weeks after Campbell (49-10) swept the Flames in a three-game conference set in Buies Creek.
The Camels scored their lone run in the bottom of the first. Camel senior Brent Graham reached base on an error with one out. Singles by Michael Felton and David Olson loaded the bases.
Elijah Trail hit into a fielder's choice, with the Flames retiring Olson at second, but Graham scoring for a 1-0 Camel lead.
The unearned run in the first was all the Camels got off of Liberty pitcher Josh Richardson.
Richardson allowed five hits and a walk in eight innings and struck out one. He improved to a 3-4 mark on the season.
Senior Ryan Mattes started on the mound and went five innings for the Camels, allowing a run on five hits and three walks.
Liberty's winning run was unearned as well. Close reached second base on a Camel throwing error to start the ninth.
Michael DeLucia's two-out single was all the Camels got against Perritt, Liberty's reliever, who got his ninth save of the Senior first baseman Nick Ray went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Camels. All six Camel hits were singles.
Liberty earns the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Campbell, ranked as high as No. 24 in the nation, will await word on an at-large bid. The field of 64 for the NCAA Tournament will be announced Monday.