LYNCHBURG, Va. — Christian Jones cranked a three-run homer to put Campbell ahead for good as the top-seeded Camels defeated No. 3 seed Liberty 6-4 in a seven-inning Big South Tournament elimination game Friday night at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
The Flames had topped CU 10-5 earlier Friday.
Campbell will face No. 2 seed High Point in the “Winner Take All” championship game on Saturday (May 26). First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. The game will be shown on ESPNU.
Freshman right-hander Brandon Jenkins (3-1) earned the win for Campbell, tossing four innings with two earned runs on three hits. The Glendora, N.J., native collected a game-high five strikeouts to help CU advance to its first conference title game since 2014.
Liberty’s Zach Brockman (2-2) took the loss, giving up six earned runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Campbell third baseman Kyle Mehl logged a season-high three hits with one double to lead the Camels offensively. The senior infielder from Hiddenite has logged three extra-base hits in the tournament after entering the week with two on the season.
Jones drove in three runs with his conference-best 18th homer of the year. His 18 bombs this season are the most by any Campbell player since 1986, when James White also had 18.
Freshman designated hitter Ty Babin roped an RBI double to round out Campbell’s extra-base hitters.
Liberty (32-26) got on the board first, scoring an unearned run following a Campbell fielding error in the top of the first. Designated hitter Logan Mathieu lined a single to left field, then the ball was misjudged by Matthew Barefoot and made it all the way to the left field fence. Tyler Galazin came home to score and put the Flames ahead 1-0.
Campbell (34-24) responded with three runs in the bottom of the third, courtesy of Jones’ homer. Mehl led the inning off with a bloop single into left field before Bryce Myers laid down a bunt single to put two runners on. Three batters later, Jones blasted a no-doubter over the left field wall to put Campbell up 3-1.
The Camels extended their lead to 4-1 in the fourth, as Bryce Myers laid down a sacrifice bunt RBI to score Luis Gimenez from third.
Liberty cut the Campbell lead to 4-3 in the top of the fifth. Ayden Karraker launched a leadoff homer before Jonathan Embry tripled to right center to drive in a run.
CU scored its final two runs of the game in the bottom of the fifth on Babin’s double and a sacrifice fly from Zach Minnick. Jeff Hahs and Jones crossed the plate after leading the inning off with back-to-back walks.
The Flames threatened a late rally in the top of the seventh, drawing four walks from Campbell closer Tyson Messer. After Karraker scored on a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-4, Cam Locklear flied out to left field to end the game.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report.)