By Joseph Garcia
BASTROP – Just a few weeks ago the Liberty Hill baseball Panthers were celebrating their 25-3A District Championship on Burnet’s field. But after their first-round bye, the Panthers met a strong Yoakum team with momentum on its side and ended Liberty Hill’s season, perhaps, prematurely.
Played at Cedar Creek High School in Bastrop, the three-game series against Yoakum seemingly came down to pitching Liberty Hill’s inability to put runs on the board. The Panthers only scored four runs the entire series as the Bulldogs were able to win 2-1.
“We knew our pitching would keep us in games,” said Liberty Hill Coach Mike Kristan. “Unfortunately when you only score four runs in three games it’s hard for a pitcher to give up just one or two runs for three games in a row.”
In Game 1 on Friday, May 11, Yoakum starting pitcher Adam Hunter no-hit the Panthers in a 5-1 win. Liberty Hill’s run came in the seventh inning with Shane Terry collecting sacrifice fly RBI, plating Bryce Dallmeyer. Starting pitcher Jake Ramirez received the loss.
Liberty Hill, however, bounced back to take Game 2, winning 2-0 with Matt Parks hurling a complete-game shutout. He gave up just four hits and struck out 10 in seven innings of work.
The first Panther run was manufactured by the larcenous Jadon Durity-Boatright on the base pads after a leadoff single. The junior proceeded to steal second and third base, putting him in position to score on a Dallmeyer single to left.
Terry collected his second RBI of the series in the sixth inning on a single to center field, scoring Dallmeyer from third and giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Parks handed the Bulldogs the rest of the way, closing the win out in style with back-to-back strikeouts and a third game.
Game 3 ensued 30 minutes later, sophomore pitcher Dane Rumley got the start and serviced the Panthers well, giving up just two earned runs on four hits in four innings.
The fourth third inning was the difference in the final game after a dropped ball in the outfield cleared the loaded bases for a quick three runs to put Yoakum up 5-0.
The only run Liberty Hill was able to manufacture was in the fifth inning.
Durity-Boatright singled and stole second base before T.J. Hilman scored him with a single of his own before being thrown out at second.
“Offensively we just kind of went into a slump,” Kristan said. “We just couldn’t piece enough back-to-back hits and walks (together). They did a good job pitching to us and we did a poor job of putting the ball in play. So, it was just kind of a combination of their good pitching and us not hitting very well.”
Despite the second-round exit in the playoffs, Coach Kristan is proud of the way the team played and never got down.
“We did a great job of competing, we didn’t give up even at the end,” he said. “We just ran out of bullets.”