The Liberty Bell High School baseball team kept its hopes for another trip to the state tournament alive with a 4-3 victory over Waterville on Saturday (May 7) in the District 6 playoffs.
A tough, extra-inning 2-1 loss to Warden in Saturday’s second game put the Mountain Lions in the one-loss bracket for this weekend’s second round at districts. They will again travel to Moses Lake, this time to face Kittitas in a loser-out game on Saturday (May 14).
If the Mountain Lions, seeded No. 2 in the Central Washington B north division, get past Kittitas they are automatically in the state tournament. A win over the Coyotes will pit them against either Lake Roosevelt or Okanogan, teams from their division with similar season records, for third or fourth place in the district playoffs.
The Mountain Lions carried a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s first-round game against Waterville, and extended it to four behind a strong pitching performance by senior Sam Thomsen, who struck out eight and gave up three runs.
“Sam started the game and gave us four strong innings,” coach Michael Wilbur said. “He also had two hits and three RBIs. Jacob McMillan had two hits and scored two runs.”
“Peter Aspholm came in and closed the door with three shutout innings,” Wilbur added. “He threw a ton of strikes and we did a great job of making plays behind him.”
In the second game, Derek Alumbaugh pitched a gutsy game against a tough Warden team, and also managed the Mountain Lions’ only hit. Alumbaugh and Warden pitcher Zach Askin, whose fastball was peaking in the high-80 mph range, battled to a 1-1 tie through seven-plus innings. Warden won in the bottom of the eighth on a walk-off single.
Last week, the Mountain Lions finished their regular season with two wins over Okanogan — one at home and one on the road — a home win over Manson.
• Liberty Bell 6, Okanogan 4 (May 2)
“Sam Thomsen came out and gave us five shutout innings,” Wilbur said. “He attacked the zone and we made some nice plays behind him. Thomsen has made himself an excellent pitcher and is battling through adversity so much better than he ever has in the past. We got into trouble a few times, but he kept trusting his stuff and trusting his defense and he got through to the other end without giving up a single run.”
Thomsen turned the game over to Alumbaugh for the final two innings. “There was some shaky defense and a few hits that gave Okanogan a chance to come back, but we made enough plays to keep the door closed,” Wilbur said.
Alumbaugh went 4-4 with two doubles. Thomsen helped his own cause with a two-run double. Finlay Holston had two hits, as did McMillan. Gavin Wengerd had two walks and scored a run.
• Liberty Bell 1, Okanogan 0 (May 3)
“The second game was all about pitching and defense for us,” the coach said. “Cole Darwood reached in the first and scored from second when Okanogan started to leave the field following a strikeout. They believed it was the third out of the inning and Cole immediately advanced and then scored when the throw got away from the third basemen. Great, aggressive, heads-up base
“Aspholm pitched an outstanding ballgame,” Wilbur said. “He showed great command and good stuff. He made them put the ball in play, but kept them off balance enough that they didn’t hit too many balls real hard. When they did hit the ball hard, it seemed like we were always there to make an out or to keep them from getting the extra base. Aspholm is only a freshman, but already well on his way to becoming an outstanding pitcher.”
• Liberty Bell 7, Manson 4 (May 5)
Holston pitched five innings and got the win, and had three hits. Alumbaugh had a double, two walks, was hit by pitch and scored three runs.
Reed Stanbery also had two hits, and Gavin Wengerd had a double and two RBIs. Wengerd started the game on the mound, followed by Holston and then Alumbaugh in the closer role.