BUIES CREEK — A suicide squeeze in the seventh inning proved to be the decisive run in Campbell’s 3-2 baseball win over Liberty on Sunday afternoon.
The bats weren’t as hot as in CU’s 17-3 win Saturday, but the pitching staff was lights out to keep Liberty at bay for most of the game and allow the offense enough time to manufacture a few late runs.
Five Campbell pitchers combined to hold the Flames to five hits and two runs while striking out 11 on the day. Thomas Harrington got the start in his collegiate debut and was impressive through five innings. The Sanford native allowed only two hits and one run while striking out six.
Two other freshman, Ty Cummings and Cade Kuehler also made their debuts. Cummings threw two-thirds scoreless innings and Kuehler earned the win with one and two-thirds scoreless innings.
Liberty got on the board in the second on an RBI double from Brady Gulakowski.
In the sixth, Campbell evened the score on a sacrifice fly by Spencer Packard. Packard lifted one to shallow left, and Mason de la Cruz opted to tag up. Cruz slid in head-first just ahead of the one-hop throw to the plate.
Liberty retook the lead in the top of the seventh. Still threatening with runners on second and third, Kuehler got the next two batters to pop up and escaped the jam with no more harm done.
The Camels took their first lead of the day in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Parquette hit a two-strike single up the middle to plate Halstead and tie the score. After a wild pitch moved Parquette to third and the count to 2-2, coach Justin Haire called for the suicide squeeze. Waldy Arias dropped one perfectly down the third base line to score Parquette.
Liberty put runners on the corners with one out in the eighth, but Kuehler picked up a strikeout and infield popup to preserve the lead. Kevin Westlake made his first appearance of the year in the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning for the save.
Despite the low-scoring affair, Collin Wolf collected three hits and Matthew Christian added two. Each of them are hitting .455 on the year.
The series win was the first over Liberty since April 15-17, 2016. Campbell took two of three in Buies Creek that weekend as well.
Campbell’s next action is set for Friday at 5 p.m. against the Dayton Flyers at Jim Perry Stadium. The series will be streamed on ESPN+.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)