By Mike Maltais
The Liberty Bell High School varsity baseball team overran Pateros and Oroville in a pair of doubleheaders last week to remain undefeated in league play, claim the North Central Washington 2B league title, and advance as the No. 1 seed to the District 6 playoffs coming up at Wenatchee Valley College on Monday (May 12).
Pateros hangs in
The Mountain Lions outlasted Pateros, 12-5 and 11-4, on April 29, but the tenacious Billygoats took both games to the full seven innings.
Seniors Milo Holston and Shane Higbee shared the pitcher’s mound in the first game and between them struck out eight batters and walked two.
In the third inning, the Mountain Lions cranked the spigots fully open, brought 13 batters to the plate and scored nine of their 12 runs.
“We controlled the game from the get-go,” said coach Don Calvert, making special note of the strong combination of solid pitching and balanced hitting.
The focused hitting largely decided the game by the bottom of the third inning. Liberty Bell sent 13 batters to the plate and among them nine runs crossed the plate to put Pateros in a hole too deep for recovery.
Between the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box, Holston was a money performer. Holston hit .500 with a double and run-batted-in (RBI).
Riley Calvert hit a double good for two RBIs. Derek Alumbaugh went 3-4, Gavin Wengerd 1-2, and Logan Szafas 1-4.
Pitching, hitting and defense again made the difference in game two.
Chip Jones and David Dinsmore III shared pitching duties 4 2/3 and 2 1/3 innings respectively.
The Mountain Lions scattered 10 hits on the game including 2-3 hitting and a triple from Morgan Palm, an RBI double from Dinsmore and two RBIs on 2-3 hitting from Jones.
Calvert and Higbee both had RBIs on 1-3 hitting. Szafas was 0-1 but had two RBIs nonetheless.
“The interesting stat about Logan in game two was that even though he was 0-1 at bat he still had two RBIs,” coach Calvert said. “The first was off a sacrifice fly and the second a ground ball where even though Logan was thrown out we still scored a run.”
Higbee threw 96 pitches in seven innings in the course of game one in the DH against Oroville on Saturday. “Two-thirds of those were strikes,” said Calvert. “He struck out six batters, walked one and gave up no earned runs, a great game.”
“The great thing about Oroville is that even though they are low in the league standings they played hard against us,” Calvert said.
In another balanced hitting attack the Mountain Lions got 11 hits while missing two infield starters, Jones and Calvert, who missed the first game to complete SAT tests.
That opened up second- and third-base slots for Jacob McMillan and Sam Thomsen, who took full advantage of the opportunity.
Game two was largely over by the end of the second inning with Liberty Bell leading 13-4 after14 Mountain Lions stepped into the batter’s box. Wengerd smacked a triple while Holston and Palm added a double apiece before the damage was done.
Left-handed Dinsmore started on the mound, Holston earned the win and Thomsen got in an inning of pitching, striking out two of four batters he faced.
Eight of nine starters got hits including Holston and Alumbaugh both 2-4 and RBI’s, Dinsmore, 1-2 and RBI, Chase Kurtz, 2-3, Higbee and Thomsen.
“Everyone was hitting the ball hard,” Calvert said, and reinforced the point by noting that five of the hits were for extra bases.
“These guys are the most aggressive hitters I’ve ever had,” Calvert said. “As a team they’re batting over .350 and a number of players are batting over .500.”
During a break in the Oroville DH, the coaches honored departing seniors Dinsmore, Higbee, Holston, Kurtz, Palm and Szafas.
The Mountain Lions were scheduled to conclude regular season play at Lake Roosevelt on Tuesday (May 6). In two previous meetings last month, Liberty Bell defeated the 11-2 Raiders, 7-1 and 6-1.
Liberty Bell’s first district opponent at WVC on Monday will be the winner of a contest between CWB South No. 2 Kittitas and CWB North No. 3 Bridgeport.