Bethune Cookmen Cats Open Series At Liberty With 5-4 Win

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Maldonado, Calamita impressive on the mound

 

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Freshman Anthony Maldonado set it up and junior Joseph Calamita shut it down on Friday evening, helping Bethune-Cookman Baseball to a series opening win at Liberty, 5-4 in non-conference action taking place at Liberty Baseball Stadium.

Starting his first-ever non-conference series opener, pitcher Anthony Maldonado, a freshman from West Palm Beach, Florida, picked up his first quality start as a Wildcat on Friday evening, as he went seven innings with just two hits and a run against him in his time on the bump.

In what was a true pitcher’s duel between a pair of right-handers, Maldonado (BCU) and Caleb Evans (Liberty), the game turned in favor of the Wildcats in the top-half of the eighth inning when the relievers for both teams were taking their turns on the mound.

With the score knotted at 1-1, Bethune-Cookman (19-9) stepped out in front for the first time on the night with three runs scored in the top of the eighth frame.

After Demetrius Sims walked and Kyle Corbin reached on a single, junior third baseman Jameel Edney reached on an error by Liberty third baseman Trey McDyre. That allowed Corbin and Sims to each score on the play and move BCU on top, 3-1.

Two plays later following another error by the Flames’ McDyre, junior left fielder Adonis Lao knocked in sophomore first baseman Danny Rodriguez with a RBI single up the middle. Rodriguez benefited from the McDyre error on the previous play, eventually finding his way into scoring position at second base.

With BCU holding onto a 4-1 advantage entering the home-half of the eighth, Liberty (14-10) tacked on three runs themselves to knot the game at 4-all.

BCU junior closer Ivan Coutinho toed the rubber in place of Maldonado, but the Flames got to the hard-throwing right-hander quickly.

Leadoff man D.J. Artis walked and moved to second on a wild pitch, before McDyre walked in the next at-bat. Jake Barbee’s single up the middle crossed Artis from second, bringing the homestanding Flames to within 4-2. The Flames would later plate two more runs with a two-out single to left by Will Shepherd to score Barbee and McDyre, tying the game for the second time in three innings.

In the top of the ninth, sophomore centerfielder Josten Heron picked up BCU’s second triple of the night, using a one-out knock to the wall in right field off the pitch from Liberty reliever Cody Gamble. Heron would score the game-winning run just a few pitches later when redshirt junior shortstop Sims knocked him in courtesy a single shot back up the middle past the glove of Flames shortstop Cam Locklear on the dive.

Joseph Calamita, last year’s closer for the Maroon and Gold, allowed a hit and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, before getting the Flames designated hitter Eric Grabowski to fly out to Heron in center, giving the Lake Worth, Florida native his first save of the campaign on the strength of the 5-4 BCU win.

Liberty would score the game’s opening run in the bottom of the first, seeing Artis score on a Grabowski fielder’s choice that was eventually ruled an error to BCU second baseman Nate Sterijevski. However, BCU would tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth when Corbin tripled to right center and came in to score on the ensuing play – that a sacrifice fly to center from Edney.

The win went to Coutinho on the mound, despite the Hagerty High alum allowing three runs on three hits, two walks and a strikeout in just an inning of action – all in the eighth. The win improved his record to 2-1 on the year.

The loss went to Flames reliever Gamble, dropping him at 0-1 for the season.

Neither team’s starter accounted into the decision, despite a quality start from each performer. Liberty’s Evans worked 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on five hits scattered, walking two and collecting seven (7) strikeouts on the night. BCU’s Maldonado matched Evans with just one run allowed, shutting down the Flames bats with two hits scattered and striking out seven (7) batters as well.

The Wildcats offense was paced by Corbin’s 3-for-5 effort at the plate, adding a triple and scoring a pair of runs. Behind him was Lao with two hits and a run driven in. Edney plated a pair for the Cats, and it was Sims supplying the final RBI from his leadoff position in the lineup.

The two teams meet back at Liberty Baseball Stadium for game two of the three-game set on Saturday, April 1, at 4 p.m.

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