LHHS collects wins over Boerne, Marble Falls

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By Paul Livengood

Liberty Hill ended its season-opening home stand with an extra innings thriller against the Boerne Greyhounds on Tuesday. The Panthers’ Ryan Ray hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded to drive home the lone and game-winning run.

The top of the eighth inning did not begin well for Liberty Hill. Bryan Flisowski bunted a ball right to Chandler Freeman, and the Panthers’ pitcher made a routine throw to first base that didn’t end so routine.

The throw to first was muffed, and Liberty Hill’s error gave the Greyhounds a spark. After a bunt that was played into a fielder’s choice at second base, Freeman had his back against the wall with one out and a man on first base. Freeman answered the call of adversity and struck out Boerne’s Jake Chapman swinging—followed by a celebratory fist pump for the clutch second out. Liberty Hill escaped the inning with an easy ground out to the pitcher.

The bottom of the eighth inning started with a first-pitch pop fly from Turner Gryseels to second base. The Boerne second baseman dropped the easy out and Liberty Hill was in business. Jonah Bailey, Greyhound senior relief pitcher, walked Kory Schmidt to put runners on first and second.

The Panthers looked to steal third, but the Greyhounds’ catcher caught them in the process. The catcher threw the ball to second base to pick off Gryseels, but instead of retreating to second base, he bolted for third. Boerne made a play on third, but the umpires called Gryseels safe.

The Boerne dugout and fans were livid at the call on the field. Boerne Head Coach Bill Merrell left the dugout to chat with the head umpire, who then left to deliberate with the umpire behind the plate. The verdict was safe at third for Liberty Hill.

Head Coach Mike Kristan thought the play could have been called either way.

“It was bang-bang,” Kristan said. “We were called out a couple times. There were a few times where we got called out when we thought we were safe. We got called out on a steal earlier. So, that’s the breaks of the game.”

Boerne decided to intentionally walk the next Panther batter—loading the bases—with the intention to force the out at home plate. Ryan Ray sealed the game for the Panthers with a walk-off base hit to second base, which the Boerne second baseman misplayed, giving Liberty Hill the 1-0 victory.

“I would have done what they did,” Kristan said. “We were just lucky enough, like I said, Ryan did a good job. He’s had good at bats. He put the ball in play and we just got a bouncer past the guy. Both teams played well and both pitchers pitched well. We’re just happy to win.”

The ball game would not have made it to extra innings, however, without the superb pitching duel between Liberty Hill’s Wyatt Cheney and Boerne’s Jake Chapman. In six innings of work, Cheney recorded nine strikeouts. Chapman also pitched valiantly, retiring 12 consecutive Panther batters, and not allowing a single run.

“We competed well,” Kristan said. “Cheney was pretty impressive.”

Both pitchers were replaced in the seventh inning. Bailey replaced Chapman on the mound, and Chandler Freeman stepped up in Cheney’s place. Bailey and Freeman would pitch the rest of the game for their respective teams.

Liberty Hill won its first game of the season Feb. 17 defeating the Marble Falls Mustangs 7-2.

The Panthers struck out 15 of the Mustangs’ 27 batters. Meanwhile, Liberty Hill only struck out four times with each of their 15 of batters going to the plate twice.

Liberty Hill pulled ahead in the second inning with three runs, two of which were scored by stealing home. The Panthers scored all three runs without hitting an RBI. Kristan credited the second inning scoring production to “great base running by the team.”

The Panthers’ two consecutive wins put them at 2-1 over their season-opening three-game home stand. Liberty Hill won’t host another home game until March 17 against Taylor. In the meantime, the Panthers will play three tournaments. The first of those three spans Feb. 23-25 at Marble Falls High School. The Panthers will compete against Austin Akins, Second Baptist, and Marble Falls.

Paul@LHIndependent.com

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