Photo courtesy of Sara Mounsey
Liberty Bell players celebrated after a walk-off win over Kittitas in district tournament play last weekend at Moses Lake.

By Don Nelson

The Liberty Bell High School baseball team split its first two games of post-season play last Saturday (May 5), beating Kittitas in dramatic fashion, 7-6, then falling 10-0 to Tri-Cities Prep in the district tournament’s first round at Moses Lake.

The one win was enough to advance the Mountain Lions to the second round of districts on Saturday (May 12) at Rec Park in Wenatchee, where they will face DeSales for third or fourth place. Either way, Liberty Bell will move on to the regional tournament, as the first six finishers qualify to continue playing.

The Mountain Lions had faced and beaten Kittitas the past couple of years in post-season play, but it required a bottom-of-the-seventh sacrifice fly by Liberty Bell’s Leo Shaw for a walk-off victory last Saturday.

Liberty Bell took an early 4-0 lead, but Kittitas came back with a 5-run inning and led 6-5 after four frames. Liberty Bell added a run in the fifth, and the teams went into seventh knotted at 6-6. Shaw’s timely sacrifice gave the Mountain Lions the win. Cole Rhoades also drove in 2 runs for Liberty Bell. Quinton Knox had two of Liberty Bell’s 5 hits.

Shay Crandall started and pitched five innings for the Mountain Lions, giving up all of Kittitas’ runs — although only one of them was earned. He fanned 9. Finlay Holston pitched the final two innings for the win, striking out 3 and allowing 1 hit.

In the second game, Tri-Cities Prep completely throttled Liberty Bell, allowing only 1 hit, although Tri-Cites didn’t put the game completely out of reach until the sixth inning, when it plated 6 runs.

Liberty Bell starter Peter Aspholm gave up 4 runs in four innings, while Holston was touched up for 6 runs in less than an inning. Crandall had the Mountain Lions’ only hit.

It was only the third loss of the season for Liberty Bell, whose only two previous defeats were at the hands of league champion Brewster. The Bears will play Tri-Cities Prep in the championship game at the district ournament this weekend.

Liberty Bell earlier finished regular-season play on May 1 with a 13-0 home field win over Soap Lake on senior night. Mountain Lion pitchers Knox, Crandall and David Kominak shut down the Eagles with 1 hit. Rhoades had 3 hits for Liberty Bell, while Shaw, Holston and Sam Neitlich had 2 each.

Reid Wengerd, Holston and Knox are the graduating seniors who were honored.

“Heading into the postseason we feel ready to make a good deep run,” Liberty Bell coach Michael Wilbur said earlier. “We have a good ball club this year. We have more depth overall, with solid ballplayers at each spot and some talented guys starting out on the bench. Our offense is led by Finlay Holston, Peter Aspholm and Cole Rhoades, but plenty of other guys have come through with big hits for us this year: Shay Crandall, Leo Shaw, Reid Wengerd and Sam Neitlich have all had some great days at the plate and are coming into the playoffs swinging the bats well.”