LYNCHBURG, Va. – North Carolina A&T lost the first game of three-game non-conference baseball series on Thursday with a 5-1 loss to Liberty at Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Junior Dustin Baber led the Aggies by going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Evan Gates (4-1) endured his first loss of the season on the mound for N.C. A&T after going 5.2 innings giving up two runs, four hits and a walk.
The Aggies (19-17) kept a good Liberty team scoreless until the fifth inning. Gates hit leadoff hitter Cam Locklear with the first pitch of the fifth inning. Locklear moved to second on a stolen base and to third on a fielder’s choice. Jaylen Guy brought him home with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
The Flames (28-9) scored again in the sixth inning as Locklear chased Gates from the bump with a two-out infield single. The Aggies replaced Gates with sophomore LHP Ethan Chavis. After Locklear stole second, the Flames took a 2-0 lead thanks to an RBI single from Gray Betts.
N.C. A&T did respond in the seventh inning. Junior Ryne Stanley hit a one-out single and moved to second a wild pitch. Stanley went to third on a groundout by freshman Tony Mack. Relief pitcher Evan Brabrand replaced starter Noah Skirrow and promptly hit the first batter he faced in pinch-hitter Jarrett Norman.
Baber then singled home Stanley to make it a 2-1 game. But the Flames added a run in the seventh before a two-run RBI double by Jonathan Embry added two more runs for Liberty in the eighth inning.
In the Aggies ninth, N.C. A&T went down in order to end the game. Skirrow (3-3) got the win for the Flames who were led at the plate by Embry who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Game 2 is Saturday at 6 p.m.