By Mike Maltais
The Liberty Bell High School varsity boys’ baseball team kicked off its 2014 season the same way as last year, with a split of the first two road games. Against a pair of 1A non-league Caribou Trail League opponents, the Mountain Lions defeated Omak but lost, 5-1, to a more talented Brewster team.
Coach Don Calvert said he was “pleased with some of the play he saw” from his team considering the limited outdoor practice time the boys were able to get in before their first games.
“We came out pretty well against Omak,” Calvert said of the March 18 opener.
The coach put four pitchers into the rotation against the Pioneers and liked what he saw from each of them.
“Derek Alumbaugh, Milo Holston, David Dinsmore III and Shane Higbee all pitched well,” Calvert said.
Holston fanned five of six batters and Higbee struck out six of 11.
The Mountain Lions hit well against Omak, putting 26 balls in play in 34 trips to the plate, but the coach would have liked to see more of them score.
“We had a lot more hits and base runners than Omak,” Calvert said, “but we left a lot of runners on base. Our timely hitting wasn’t great and we should have scored more of them.”
“Early in the season like this a lot of runs are unearned,” Calvert said. “Five of our seven runs were unearned and so were most of Omak’s.”
Contributing to Liberty Bell’s 10 hits were Alumbaugh with three-for-four, Higbee, two-for-four, and Sam Thomsen, two-for-four. Dinsmore and Riley Calvert each connected for a double and Morgan Palm had a hit.
“What I liked about our hitting was how aggressive it was,” Calvert said. “We didn’t walk once.”
The Mountain Lions met a better 1A team in Brewster on March 20 and that, coupled with what the coach saw as a diminished playing intensity, handed the Bears a 5-1 victory.
Alumbaugh shared the pitcher’s mound with Chip Jones, who threw most of the game and struck out five batters.
While Jones didn’t give up any walks, Brewster earned three runs on well-hit balls and managed to maximize all five of their hits into five scores.
“It was pretty much a dogfight through the first five innings.” Calvert said. “Then Brewster got a couple of runs in the sixth and we let the game get away from us.”
Cole Darwood, Dinsmore, Palm and Alumbaugh accounted for Liberty Bell’s four hits, but Brewster’s pitching combined with more practice time made the difference.
“We were only on the practice field for four days,” Calvert said. “that’s why our first games are all non-league. We have to give our guys a chance to get accustomed to playing outdoors again.”
Liberty Bell plays at Pateros on Wednesday (March 26) before spring break.