Loss to Tri-Cities Prep eliminates LBHS
The Liberty Bell High School baseball team outhit Tri-Cities Prep and arguably outpitched the reigning 2B state champions in the opening round of this year’s state tournament last Saturday (May 18) in Yakima.
In fact, the Mountain Lions played 6 2/3 innings of excellent baseball. But costly errors in that other 1/3 of an inning led to three unearned Tri-Cities Prep runs, which proved enough to outlast Liberty Bell, 3-1, in the loser-out game.
“It was very tough to lose since we really outplayed them except for all but 1/3 of an inning,” Liberty Bell coach David Aspholm said. “But it is a seven-inning game, not 6 2/3.”
Liberty Bell had eight hits to Tri-Cities Prep’s two, and Mountain Lion starting pitcher Peter Aspholm threw the entire game while striking out nine and allowing no earned runs. The telling line score stat was in the “errors” column: Liberty Bell three, Tri-Cities Prep none.
Tri-Cities Prep, which lost no players from last year’s state championship team, had been the Mountain Lions’ nemesis the past several seasons, twice eliminating Liberty Bell in post-season play, including last year. “We were hoping to even things up a bit,” coach Aspholm said. “And to be honest it had that ‘upset’ feel for almost the entire game. I think our boys felt like the score was not reflective of the better team this past Saturday, so ‘upset’ is relative.”
The Mountain Lions stranded nine runners on base, six in scoring position. A close “out” call at home plate deprived the Mountain Lions of a run that could have made the difference, the coach said. Tri-Cities Prep left six runners on base.
At the plate for the Mountain Lions, Sam Neitlich was three-for-three and Peter Aspholm was two-for-three. Neitlich finished the season with a .571 batting average, while Aspholm finished at .545.
Quinn Wengerd, Noah Holston and Cole Rhoades each collected a hit as well, Holston driving in Liberty Bell’s only run.
“The only damage Tri-Cities Prep mounted occurred with two outs in the bottom of the third when we committed two straight errors,” the coach said. “It is hard to beat a state champion and have errors in a game, let alone three in one inning. Baseball is a great game, but it can also be cruel.”
Tri-City Prep’s Maz Nelson pitched 6 innings and struck out 10.
The Mountain Lions finished the season with a 12-10 record, 10-4 in league play for a third-place finish. Last year, Liberty Bell’s season record was 16-4, losing only to Tri-Cities Prep and Brewster.
“This was a bumpy season for us in terms of our overall record and we were severely impacted by a couple of key injuries at one position, but I think it will be really positive for the team as we move forward,” coach Aspholm said. “We began the season with some big questions marks in the field and at the plate. And early on we lost our catcher and a key senior, Leo Shaw, to a serious ankle injury. Then a little later our younger catcher, Noah Holston, was hobbled by some non-season ending injuries that he struggled through. We finished the season with Dusty Patterson filling in exceptionally well at catcher and shifting a few other players around. I don’t know of too many teams that can lose their first two catchers and still compete at the level we did.”
After some early losses, Aspholm said, “the boys eventually started to make plays, produce clutch hits and gain confidence in each other, and we began to play baseball together as a team. The end of our season was a great indicator of those team traits and bodes well for next season.”
Tri-City Prep’s luck ran out in the second round as they lost to Asotin, 1-0, and were eliminated. CW 2B league champion Brewster beat Northwest Christian Colbert, 7-0, and Colfax, 11-1, to advance to the final four in Centralia this weekend. The Bears will be joined by Asotin, Rainier and Kalama. The CW 2B league’s other representative, Tonasket, lost to Colfax, 2-1, in the first round.
Tri-Cities Prep 3, Liberty Bell 1
LBHS 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 R1 H8 E3
TCP 0 0 3 0 0 0 x R3 H2 E0