Foust homers, but Panthers fall to Taylor

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By MIKE SCHOEFFEL

The Liberty Hill baseball team entered Tuesday’s game at Taylor with a three-game winning streak on its mind.

Taylor spoiled those plans, however, winning 3-1 behind two game-changing hits — a two RBI double by Bailey Dismuke in the second and a solo home run by Ryland Cox in the fifth.

With the win, Taylor completed a regular season sweep of Liberty Hill. The Ducks won the first meeting between the two teams, 2-1, back on March 22, behind a sterling pitching performance by Justin Rumley.

Liberty Hill got a sterling pitching performance of its own on Tuesday out of freshman Chandler Freeman. Freeman threw a complete game five-hitter, striking out five batters and keeping his team within striking distance of a victory throughout the evening.

Liberty Hill head coach Mike Kristan was pleased with Freeman, a young talent who has developed into a consistent presence within the Panthers’ staff.

“He gave up those two runs early, but never looked out of sorts,” said the coach. “I told him he was starting a few days ago, and he’s been ready to go over these past few days.”

Even with Freeman’s gutsy performance, the Panthers were thwarted by a lack of offensive production. They struck out 11 times, and in five district games have scored just eight runs.

After the game, Liberty Hill head coach Mike Kristan addressed his offense’s struggles.

“We struck out over 10 times tonight,” said the coach. “It’s hard to win games when you do that. We hit the ball alright, it was just going right at people. We’re just waiting for our moment to break the ice.

“But we’re starting to run out of time a little bit,” he added.

Even so, the Panthers are still a respectable 2-3 in league play. With four regular season games remaining, they’re in a prime position to capture one of the four postseason spots from District 25-4A.

“If we take care of business and beat the teams we’re supposed to beat, we’ll be all right,” Kristan assured.

Liberty Hill took a 1-0 lead against Taylor with a solo home run by Slater Foust in the top of the first. The Ducks regained the lead in the bottom of the second when Dismuke doubled to center field, scoring two runs. They tacked on their third and final run in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run by Cox.

The Panthers’ best scoring opportunities came in the second and fifth. Cooper Phelan doubled with one out in the second, but two consecutive strikeouts left him stranded 180-feet away. In the fifth, Connor Thompson roped a two-out double, but another strikeout choked out the threat. Kristan, per usual, was frank and pointed in his post-game analysis.

“We didn’t get a big hit when we needed one,” he said. “We had a few scoring opportunities but just didn’t capitalize.”

Liberty Hill will play district frontrunner Salado at home this Friday before hosting Senior Night against Lampasas on April 19.

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