Liberty baseball has fallen out of the national rankings this week coming off of a series loss against Stetson. The series loss brought the Flames down to 15-7, with a win over Duke on Tuesday bringing Liberty to a record of 16-7 going into the weekend matchup against Jacksonville. The win at Duke is a good game to get back on track as the Flames try to tip the scales back in their favor and continue what was starting to look like a truly special season.
The Jacksonville Dolphins enter the matchup 13-10, with a win against number 5 ranked Florida State and a close 1-0 loss against number 14 ranked Florida. This team has played high profile opponents and showed that they can hang with some of the best teams in the nation. They are coming off a 12-9 win against Florida A&M that went 12 innings, surely riding off the energy of victory as they take on the Flames at home.
Sophomore 2nd basemen Jesus Pacheco leads the Dolphins in batting average (.316) and hits (24). He typically bats third in the lineup and got on base 4 times in his 4 at bats last game, being walked 3 times and getting 1 hit, reaching home 3 times. First basemen Christian Coipel has been the clear power hitter for the Dolphins this year, batting 4th in the lineup and leading the team in home runs (6), RBI’s (27), and slugging (.483). This 3-4 punch in the lineup will be something to look out for when the Flames take the field
Juniors Christian Graham and Mason Adams have started the most games for the Dolphins, each with 6 under their belt. Graham holds a record of 1-1 and Adams is 3-0. Adams leads the team in strikeouts (55) by a significant margin with the second highest being 27 from Michael Darrell-Hicks and Tyler Naumann. Sophomore Tyler Vogel has appeared in 12 games for Jacksonville with 1 win under his belt and 7 saves. He has an impressive ERA of 1.53 which is the best mark for Jacksonville pitchers.
Brady Gulakowski and Three Hillier lead the way on offense with two hits apiece in Tuesday’s game against Duke. Each crossed home plate with Gulakowski batting in two more. 7 out of 9 Liberty batters in the game got at least on hit in a game where the offense was really coming together. Runs came in bursts with three in the 4th inning and 6 in the 9th.
Jeremy Beamon took the win on Tuesday in Durham, pitching 3 innings with 4 hits and 2 earned runs. Mason Fluharty was a calm presence on the mound in his 2 inning appearance as he allowed only 1 hit and zero earned runs with 3 strikeouts against 7 batters. Cade Hungate closed it out in the 9th, striking out 1 batter and allowing no hits.
Though Liberty has fallen out of most of the national rankings, they have not fallen so far as to where they can’t claw their way back into the national spotlight by going on another hot streak. It is exciting to see how this team will react to being dropped out of ranking and taking a few tough losses. I am certain it will ignite a fire in them to push even harder as they continue their season.