Panthers win in late inning comeback

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Liberty Hill starting pitcher Matt Parks delivers a fastball to a Burnet batter attempting a bunt. Park fanned 11 Bulldog batter in a 6-5 win. (www.ThunderstruckPhotos.com)

By Joseph Garcia

“That’s how we planned it,” said Liberty Hill baseball Coach Mike Kristan jokingly, after his team came from behind by the skin of their teeth to win Tuesday night.

All joking aside, the Panthers were in a serious dilemma when they found themselves down 4-0 after the first inning after giving up four unearned runs.

Similar to what Liberty Hill did at home against Taylor, the Panthers found a way to win. This time they scored four runs on three hits for a sixth-inning rally, surviving for a 6-5 victory over rival Burnet.

“We looked dead in the water for a long time,” Kristan said. “We didn’t lie down and they cheered for each other and that kind of thing. That’s the important part.”

The win puts the Panthers on top of the District 25-3A standings with a 4-0 record after wins over Taylor, Llano, Lampasas and Burnet.

In that sixth inning, Jacob Olvera led off by lining a double to right field, followed by a sacrifice by Kolby Keith that moved courtesy runner Jadon Durity to third, who then scored on a passed ball. The run closed the gap to 3-4.

Next, Bryce Dallmeyer worked the count for a walk, setting up T. J. Hilman who doubled to left. Then with runners on second and third with one out, Jacob Simmons hit a towering fly ball that got caught in the wind, causing the Burnet left fielder to drop the ball. Two runs scored on the hit, giving the Panthers their first lead of the game at 5-4.

Kyle Hester added an insurance run with a single to make it 6-4 Liberty Hill with the Panthers three outs away from a victory.

Liberty Hill’s Tyler Barrows had to work for those final outs as he got out of a bases loaded jam with one out to seal the win and the save. He came on he relief for Matt Parks who allowed four runs to score (none earned) off two hits, while striking out 11.

“We just competed and put the ball in play at the right time and Burnet made a few mistakes at the end,” Kristan said. “Tyler did a good job of coming in and shutting them down at the end, so that’s a plus.”

Kristan set immediate goals for his team during the first round of district games. The Panthers (12-5-1, 4-0) are one win away from that mark.

“I told them three big keys (for us) were beating Burnet in a close game, being 4-0 right now in district and being two games better than we were at this point last year when we were 2-2,” Kristan said. “The last thing I said (to the team) is to be 5-0 and the end, so we are worried about winning the next game; that’s it.”

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