Liberty had the tying run at third base with one out in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon.
Jacksonville closer Jagger McCoy slammed the door shut on a potential Flames’ rally.
Cam Locklear was picked off at third base following a failed suicide squeeze play for the inning’s second out, Logan Mathieu’s pop up was caught in foul territory down the third-base line, and Jacksonville stunned Liberty 2-1 in the semifinal round of the ASUN Conference baseball tournament at North Florida’s Harmon Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Flames (37-13) fall into the loser’s bracket and will play Kennesaw State in an elimination game at 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that elimination game will play again Saturday at 7 p.m. against the loser of North Florida and Jacksonville.
Liberty must now win four consecutive games to claim the ASUN title.
The Flames and Dolphins (14-32) combined to score all three runs in the first inning, and then starters Dylan Cumming and Tyler Santana settled in and kept the game at the same score.
Jacksonville’s first three hitters reached against Cumming. Ruben Someillan reached on a leadoff walk and scored on Dakota Julylia’s triple to center field.
Christian Coipel’s single scored Julylia for a 2-0 advantage.
Will Wagner, who reached on a fielder’s choice in the first inning, advanced to second on a two-out walk to Trey McDyre. Brady Gulakowski reached on a fielder’s choice, and the Dolphins’ second error of the inning allowed Wagner to score to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Santana (5-7) settled in and allowed three hits, walked three and struck out five in his eight-inning outing. McCoy worked out of a first-and-third jam with one out in the ninth to record his fifth save of the season.
Locklear reached on a one-out walk in the ninth and advanced to third on Jake Wilson’s single.
Mathieu failed to put down a bunt on the first pitch of his at-bat, and Locklear was thrown out after straying too far from the bag for the inning’s second out.
Cumming (4-2) allowed two earned runs on five hits, walked two and did not strike out a batter in his six-inning outing. David Erickson, Mason Fluharty and Fraser Ellard combined to throw three scoreless innings of relief.
Kickoff times set for Liberty’s first five games
Liberty’s 10-game 2020 season featured kickoff times at either noon or 1 p.m.
The first five games of the 2021 campaign will kick off in primetime.
ESPN and CBS began rolling out early season college football kickoff times, and Liberty’s first two home games and first three road games will kick off at either 6, 7 or 8 p.m.
The Flames’ two home games (Sept. 4 vs. Campbell and Sept. 18 vs. Old Dominion) will kick off at 6 p.m. and both will stream on ESPN3. Liberty’s Sept. 11 game at Troy will start at 7 p.m. and be on ESPN+.
The third matchup between Liberty and Syracuse is slated for an 8 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Sept. 24 from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. That game will be on the ACC Network.
UAB’s new stadium, Protective Stadium, will open for the first time Oct. 2 against Liberty, with the game time at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
McKnight headlines Liberty 2021 Hall of Fame class
James McKnight, who shined both in football and track & field, headlined a five-member class of 2021 which will be inducted into the Liberty athletics hall of fame in early September.
McKnight, Kyrie (Dorn) Adams, Pat Bussey, Robert Karlsson and Megan (Frazee) Leuzinger will be inducted during a Sept. 3 ceremony, and the five will be honored during the football team’s Sept. 4 season opener against Campbell.
OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD
Liberty’s Mitchell advances to nationals
Liberty junior Kyle Mitchell’s throw of 63 feet on his third and final attempt locked him into the Division I national championships during the Division I East Preliminary Round at North Florida’s Visit Jax Track at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
Mitchell, the ASUN outdoor shot put champion, finished sixth among the event’s 12 qualifiers for the national championship. He will throw in the national championship June 9 at 10:10 p.m. at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.