By Mike Maltais
In a battle that came down to the last batter in the bottom of the seventh, the Liberty Bell High School varsity baseball team came up one run short of catching Kittitas in a 5-4 final inning surge in 2B District 6 playoff competition at Wenatchee Valley College on Monday (May 12).
The win advances Kittitas into the championship round against Riverside Christian back at WVC on Thursday (May 15). The Crusaders defeated White Swan, 14-7, earlier in the day after Kittitas downed Bridgeport, 13-1,in five innings. White Swan outlasted Lake Roosevelt, 7-3, before falling to Riverside Christian.
Liberty Bell will play White Swan at noon on Thursday (May 15) in a loser-out contest for the final District 6 spot at regional competition.
If opponents have learned anything about the LBHS baseball boys in post-season play, it is that the Mountain Lions can never be counted out until the last batter leaves the box.
Derek Alumbaugh opened on the mound for Liberty Bell and pitched five innings until Chip Jones relieved him in the sixth.
Kittitas took an early 2-0 lead before Shane Higbee brought home Alumbaugh on a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, Kittitas ran into a double play when a Coyote base runner who was forced out at second failed to slide into base and interfered with a Jones throw to first base. Officials ruled the batter out at first for the double play.
Liberty Bell struck twice more in the bottom of the fifth when Gavin Wengerd came home on a single by Jones and Shane Higbee later scored.
In the top of the sixth inning, centerfielder Morgan Palm caught a fly ball and rocketed a throw to David Dinsmore III at first to catch another Coyote off base.
Palm made a running over-the-shoulder catch of a well-hit ball to centerfield for the first Kittitas out in the top of the seventh inning.
Then third baseman Higbee fielded a ground ball and caught a Coyote advancing from second, cut him off and made the throw to second base for the second out.
Jones fanned a Kittitas batter for out number three.
The Mountain Lions were trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh when lead-off batter Cole Darwood got to first base on a walk.
A well-hit fly ball off the bat of Chase Kurtz might have tied the game had not the Kittitas centerfielder been playing deep enough to make the catch, holding Darwood on first.
Palm struck out and Darwood beat the catcher’s throw to steal second base. With Jones at the plate, a throw to third base to try to pick off another Darwood steal was wide and Darwood cruised home for Liberty Bell’s fourth run.
The score was 5-4 with Milo Holston on deck when Jones went down swinging to end the game.