By Don Nelson
The Liberty Bell High School baseball team lost its first game of the season last week, a 2-1, home field heartbreaker to league-leading Brewster.
Liberty Bell holds second place in league play behind Brewster. After being held to one run by the Bears, the Mountain Lions broke out for 52 runs in their next three games, all wins at home.
On April 10, Liberty Bell lost a pitching battle to Brewster when, with the score tied 1-1, the Bears pushed across the winning run in the seventh inning. The Mountain Lions’ Peter Aspholm pitched six innings, allowing five hits and striking out 11. Brewster’s Joe Taylor pitched six strong innings as well.
“Brewster is a good-hitting team, and he [Aspholm] shut them down for five innings after giving up a single run in the first,” Liberty Bell coach Michael Wilbur said. “He was able to work out of trouble a few times, and really executed pitches when he needed to.”
“We did some things well but not enough to win,” Wilbur added. “Looking back on the game, we had chances to score and just didn’t hit enough to get the job done. They’re a good team and on Tuesday they were the better team. We’ve got work to do, but I know our guys are determined and like to compete.”
“Finlay Holston had our only hit, but there are some guys who put together good at-bats,” the coach added. “Moving forward, we need more guys to put together great at-bats and hit balls hard, and we should be able to push a couple more runs across.”
That turned out to not just be a hoped-for result but also something of a prophecy as the Mountain Lions pummeled visiting Bridgeport, 25-0, on April 12. Not only that, but five Liberty Bell pitchers combined for a no-hitter against the Mustangs.
“It was great to see some of our younger guys get to play,” Wilbur said. “They brought energy and clearly enjoyed the chance to get on the field and perform.”
Liberty Bell’s five pitchers included a couple who hadn’t been on the mound before. David Kominak, Quinn Wengerd, Sam Neitlich, Dusty Patterson and Quinton Knox each threw an inning, with Wengerd and Knox each striking out the side.
“Leo Shaw did a nice job behind the plate and led the way with two hits and six RBIs,” the coach said. “Finlay Holston added two hits and Quentin Knox scored three runs. David Kominak continues to do a nice job on the mound.”
Liberty Bell was very efficient, getting 25 runs on 10 hits — aided by 14 walks.
Although Liberty Bell took two games from Manson by 12-3 and 15-1 on Saturday (April 14), Wilbur had praise for the visiting Trojans.
“Manson always competes and this year was no different,” Wilbur said. “They’re a well-coached team and they play hard. In a lot of ways, those games were closer than the score indicated.”
Knox, who is coming back from a significant knee injury, made his first varsity start on the mound and pitched five strong innings for the win, giving up two earned runs and ringing up six strikeouts. Shay Crandall pitched a scoreless two innings.
“He [Knox] just got better and better as the game went on, and I am looking forward to handing him the ball again,” Wilbur said. “Having him adds a new element to our ballclub.”
Reid Wengerd and Shaw each had two hits. Crandall, Patterson and Neitlich each drove in two runs.
In the second game, Liberty Bell used four pitchers who gave up only two hits.
Aspholm, who pitched the first inning, had a double and a triple and batted in four runs. Neithlich, Knox and Cole Rhoades each added two hits.
Holston reached base six of seven times over the two games, scoring three times and driving in two.
“Cole Rhoades had a great day at the top of our lineup, drawing two walks and knocking two hits in the second game,” Wilbur said. “He swiped two bags and scored four runs.”
Liberty Bell was looking for payback at Brewster on Tuesday (April 17). The Mountain Lions host Okanogan on Thursday (April 19) starting at 4:30 p.m., then play a double-header at Waterville-Mansfield on Saturday (April 21).