HIGH POINT, N.C. - Third-seeded Liberty jumped out to a 5-0 lead and went on to defeat sixth-seeded UNC Asheville 9-2 in the first round of the 2012 Big South Conference baseball championships at Williard Stadium on the campus of High Point University.
The Bulldogs (25-29) will face either Campbell or High Point Wednesday at around noon in the losers' bracket. The Camels and Panthers are scheduled to play tonight at 8:30 p.m.
Liberty starter John Niggli (9-3) kept the Asheville bats in check for most of the game. He pitched seven innings, allowing six hits and just one run with four strikeouts.
"Tonight it was just too much John Niggli," commented Bulldog coach Tom Smith. "He did a great job pitching and just shut our offense down. You just have to tip your cap to him.
"Liberty beat a pretty good pitcher in our guy Dean Noland," added Smith. "It's hard to come back against a pitcher like Niggli. We just built too big of a hole. Tomorrow is a new day."
Asheville had seven hits in the game. Ian Graham led the Bulldog offense with two doubles. Eli Miller added two hits and a RBI.
The Flames got two hits and four RBI from catcher Trey Wimmer. Alex Close hit a two-run shot for Liberty in the third inning.
Wimmer's RBI-single in the second inning helped the Flames take an early 2-0 lead. Close's two-run homer in the third pushed the lead to 4-0.
Dalton Sype's bunt single plated another run in the fourth to push the lead to 5-0.
Asheville got on the board in the seventh when Graham hit his second double of the game down the left-field line. Hunter Bryant battled back from a 0-2 hole to earn a walk. Miller singled to left, scoring Graham to cut the lead to 5-1.
But Liberty came right back with four runs in the seventh to increase the lead to 9-1. Wimmer's two-run double was the big blow in the frame.
Asheville got a run in the ninth on Hunter Bryant's RBI-single.