Liberty Hill wins first district game over rival Burnet

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The Liberty Hill baseball team was all smiles after beating Burnet, 1-0, last Tuesday to earn its first district victory. Travis Williamson scored the only run of the game on a passed ball in the bottom of the third. (Alex Rubio Photo)

The Liberty Hill baseball team was all smiles after beating Burnet, 1-0, last Tuesday to earn its first district victory. Travis Williamson scored the only run of the game on a passed ball in the bottom of the third. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By MIKE SCHOEFFEL

Slater Foust got by with a little help from his friends.

Foust, Liberty Hill’s starting pitcher, threw perhaps his best game of the season in a 1-0 victory over Burnet last Tuesday evening. His friends — the defenders behind him — came up with a number of key plays in crucial spots, as the Panthers captured their first district win of the season in front of a packed house at Liberty Hill High School.

“We played pretty solid defense all night,” said Liberty Hill head coach Mike Kristan. “Slater threw well and this was one of our best defensive games of the season, by far.”

The win is just what the Panthers were itching for, as they came into the night winless in two district games. The fact that the first district triumph against their biggest rival was icing on the cake.

“It was so important,” said Foust. “I knew it was a big game and I had a feeling we were going to win. I just went in there confident and tried to do my job.”

Foust certainly did his duty, striking out six batters in a complete game two-hitter. Foust appeared locked in from the onset, using his breaking pitches to great effect and giving his teammates opportunities to make plays in the field.

“They’re all competitors,” Kristan said of his team. “We have a lot of them out here. Slater did a great job of putting balls in the strike zone and letting the kids play defense.”

The biggest defensive play of the night came in the top of the seventh. With the tying run on second and one out, Liberty Hill second baseman Garrett Wright fielded a chopper on a short hop. The runner on second was moving on contact, and with Wright’s momentum carrying him toward third, he threw a frozen rope to third baseman Chandler Freeman.

It was close, but the runner was cut down. Wright’s split-second decision paid off.

“Everyone was shouting “One, one, one!” said Foust. “But Garrett was like “Nope.”

“Every time someone makes a play behind me, it pumps me up,” added the pitcher. “I have a hard time holding in my emotions sometimes, especially when guys are making great plays out there.”

Foust retired the next batter on a fly out to center field to end the game. He proceeded to hurl his glove toward the home dugout in celebration.

The Panthers scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the third thanks to some heads up baserunning. Nine-hole hitter Travis Williamson reached on a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a Connor Thompson groundout, then scored on a passed ball that skipped to the backstop.

That was the only support Foust needed to shut the door. Kristan, while pleased the win, wasn’t blind to possible areas of improvement.

“I thought Burnet did a great job pitching to us,” he said. “We took too many strikes threes. We flew out too much. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s nice to win one finally. We’ll enjoy this one.”

The Panthers look to win their second district game against Llano at home this Friday, April 8.

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