Liberty’s Regional Run Comes to an End with 3-1 Setback to No. 2 Tennessee

College Sports

Knoxville, Tenn. – The No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Liberty Flames 3-1 in the 2021 NCAA Knoxville, Tenn. Regional final, Sunday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Volunteers pitchers Will Heflin and Sean Huntley combined to hold the Flames to one run on five hits in the victory. Heflin outdueled Liberty starter Fraser Ellard over the first five innings, as Tennessee took a 3-0 lead.

Left fielder Drew Gilbert hit a two-run home run, his ninth of the year and his third in the last three games for the Volunteers.

Flames second baseman Will Wagner led all batters in the game with three hits.

Earlier in the day, Liberty downed No. 19 Duke 14-5 to move into their second regional final in program history. The Flames finish the year with a 41-16 record. Tennessee moves to 48-16 and advances into its third Super Regional in program history and its first since 2005.

Box Score Highlights

Records: Liberty (41-16); Tennessee (48-16)

Location: Knoxville, Tenn. (Lindsey Nelson Stadium)

WP: Will Heflin (3-3)| LP: Fraser Ellard (0-1)

Scoring Summary

TENNESSEE – 3rd INNING – Rucker singles, Ferguson scores, 1-0

TENNESSEE – 5th INNING – Gilbert homers, Ferguson scores, 3-0

LIBERTY – 6th INNING – McDyre reaches on fielder’s choice, Anderson scores, 3-1

Notable Numbers

·        Tennessee edged Liberty in the hit column, 6-5. Neither team committed an error.

·        The Flames left seven men on base, while the Volunteers left nine men on base.

·        Making his first start of 2021, Liberty’s Ellard takes the loss. He gave up three runs on four hits over five innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.

·        Flames relievers Mason Fluharty and David Erickson combined to pitch three scoreless innings of relief. Fluharty pitched one inning, while Erickson pitched the final two innings.

·        Tennessee’s Heflin allowed one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings to record the win. He tied his career high by striking out eight and he walked one.

·        Volunteers reliever Sean Hunley pitched the final 3 1/3 innings to earn his eighth save of the year.

·        No Tennessee batter had more than one hit in the contest.

Turning Point

After Tennessee upped their lead to 3-0 on center fielder Drew Gilbert’s home run in the fifth, Liberty scored on its first run of the night on a fielder’s choice and put two runners on with no one out in the top of the sixth. Volunteers left-hander Will Heflin battled the Flames designated hitter Brady Gulakowski over a 13-pitch at bat, before retiring the designated hitter for the first out. Tennessee then went to the bullpen and brought in reliever Sean Hunley, who ended the threat by retiring the next two batters.

Beyond the Box Score

·        Liberty played in its second regional final in program history this evening. The Flames advanced to their first regional final during the 2013 Columbia, S.C. Regional.

·        Liberty and Tennessee met for the second time in the Knoxville, Tenn. Regional, this evening. The Volunteers won both meetings.

·        The Flames finish the year with 40 or more wins for the seventh time in program history and the second time under head coach Scott Jackson.

·        Liberty catcher Gray Betts, third baseman Trey McDyre, designated hitter Brady Gulakowski and pitcher Mason Meyer were named to the all-regional team.

·        For the only the sixth time this season, the Flames had five hits or less hits in a game.

·        Wagner recorded his seventh three-hit and his 20th multi-hit game of the season.

·        Liberty shortstop Cam Locklear finishes his career as the program’s leader in games played with 246.

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