sports-baseball-calvert-postRiley Calvert beats out a throw to first base to get on base with a single at last weekend’s state baseball playoffs against Mossyrock. The Mountain Lions lost the game 5-1 to place fourth. Photo by Mike Maltais

 

BY MIKE MALTAIS

Liberty Bell senior pitching sensation Andrew Ryan closed out his high school baseball career by leading his young Mountain Lion teammates to fourth place at state in the 2B final four playoffs at Ellensburg last weekend.

Battling a combination of weather delay and illness, the Liberty Bell boys had a 20-game win streak end with losses to eventual state champion DeSales, 13-0, and Mossyrock, 5-1, after rain forced both games to be played nearly back-to-back on Saturday (May 25).

“We had two spectacular weekends before the finals,” said coach Don Calvert, “and if the same team had showed up at Ellensburg I think we would have fared far better.”

With the exception of the Fighting Irish of DeSales, who claimed their 19th state championship in the showdown at Rotary Park, the Mountain Lions matched up pretty well against the other two opponents in the run, Adna and Mossyrock.

The baseball team traveled to Yakima Friday (May 24) to watch the Lady Lions softball team play Northwest Christian in the morning, drop by Hoover Elementary School to mentor a group of third- and fourth-graders and then suit up for their 3 p.m. battle with DeSales.

However, rain postponed the softball game, as it would the later game against the Irish, so the team kept its commitment to the elementary youngsters and counseled the kids on the importance of academics, teamwork and sportsmanship.

Andrew Ryan

Andrew Ryan

“They were very proud and generous young men,” Calvert said, “and those little third- and fourth-graders just ate it up.”

As the Mountain Lions entered Ellensburg’s Rotary Park for their rescheduled game against DeSales at 10 a.m. Saturday “about half the kids were sick with sore throats and colds,” Calvert said. “The stars just weren’t aligned for us that weekend.”

The big and experienced Irish, well-acquainted with the vagaries of state competition took control of the game and dealt Liberty Bell its first loss in a long season.

“These guys never had their heads handed to them for 20 games in a row,” Calvert said of the 13-0 loss the Mountain Lions absorbed.

With barely an hour and a half to shake off the dusting, Liberty Bell was back on Sigler Field to face the Vikings.

In the first inning, Morgan Palm and Chip Jones took the pitcher to a full 3-2 count before both walked to get on base. Ryan grounded out to score Palm and the Mountain Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

Milo Holston singled but was later picked off at first base, and David Dinsmore III struck out to retire Liberty Bell. They would not score again.

Mossyrock managed to get a few runners on base, and with the help of some errors on the part of Liberty Bell built a 3-1 lead into a 5-1 final to clinch third place.

Eighth grader Derek Alumbaugh relieved Ryan on the mound in the fifth inning.

“We only had four hits in those two games and our pitching, while pretty good, was not at its best,” the coach said. “It just wasn’t one of our days.”

Later, on the bus ride home Calvert noticed that his team was laying plans for next season.

“We’re in the rotation for new uniforms next year. The guys are excited about that and are already talking about how they are going to get in shape for next season,” the coach said.

“I write a letter to the team at the end of each season,“ Calvert said,  “and this year I told them that on three occasions this season they generated moments that made the world stand still.”

And so they did.