DELAND, Fla. - In its debut in the ASUN Conference Baseball Championship, Liberty supplied timely hitting to advance past North Florida 6-4 and into the winner's bracket. The victory marks the first-ever for the Flames as Liberty continues a strong debut season within the conference.
The attack came early from Liberty (38-18; 15-9), tacking on three runs in the first inning off ASUN Pitcher of the Year Brad Deppermann. A pair of RBI singles from Logan Mathieu and Will Wagner started the scoring while Cam Locklear supplied a sacrifice fly. Flames starter Andrew McInvale coasted through the first four innings, limiting the Ospreys to just two hits and striking out three.
The fifth inning is when North Florida (31-24; 12-11) was able to find some scoring, tying the game in a three-run frame that was highlighted by a ball that seemed to be caught in the outfield as it fell close to the grass, but was called safe and resulted in a two-run triple for Tanner Murphy that tied the game at three. McInvale was able to escape the jam, paving the way for Tyler Galazin to then produce a two-run single in the bottom half of that inning to give the lead right back to the Flames, this time for good.
Evan Brabrand locked down the final three innings for the Flames, notching his 12th save of the season while striking out one and not allowing a hit or a walk. An additional run of support was tallied in the bottom of the eighth, a sacrifice fly from Mathieu that made the score 6-4 and set Brabrand up for a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game.
Liberty now awaits the winner of Jacksonville and Lipscomb from game three of the opening round. The first pitch of the winner's bracket matchup is set up for 7 PM ET on Thursday night, streamed live on ESPN+. With the loss, North Florida moves down the bracket to face top-seeded FGCU with a chance to keep its season going. That game will lead off the second day of triple-header action at 11 AM ET, live on ESPN+.
Liberty vs. North Florida Game Notes
- Liberty is just the fourth two-seed to win its opening contest of the ASUN Championship over the last eight tournaments
- All nine of Liberty's hits throughout the game were singles, not getting an extra-base hit from any hitter
- Chris Berry and Tanner Murphy led North Florida with two RBIs apiece
- ASUN Player of the Year Jonathan Embry went 1-3 at the plate vs. ASUN Pitcher of the Year Brad Deppermann; Deppermann had one strikeout