Baseball team mercy-rules Burnet, secures third seed
By Mike Schoeffel
All season long, players on the Liberty Hill baseball team have emphasized their rivalry with the Burnet Bulldogs. Last Friday, the Panthers gained significant bragging rights over their bitter foes.
The Panthers mercy-ruled Burnet, 11-1, in a one-game tiebreaker to determine the third seed out of District 25-4A.
With the win, the third-seeded Panthers will take on La Vernia (18-7, 10-2) in the bi-district round, which begins this Friday.
Burnet qualified for the postseason as the fourth seed and will face Geronimo Navarro (24-2, 10-2) in the bi-district round.
Liberty Hill is now 2-1 against Burnet in 2016.
The Panthers’ most recent triumph over Burnet was especially sweet, considering they lost to the Bulldogs, 2-1, on a walk-off single by Sawyer Fisher just one week prior. Had Liberty Hill won that game, last week’s one-game playoff wouldn’t have been necessary.
“I’m sure that gave our guys some added motivation to go out there and beat them,” said Liberty Hill head coach Mike Kristan. “Burnet is always one of the biggest games on the schedule, so for the guys to get a win against them in a playoff-type scenario is a big deal.”
There was no need for late-game heroics on Friday. The Panthers buried the Bulldogs early on, scoring eight runs over the first three innings.
That was more than enough run support for Liberty Hill ace Slater Foust, who threw just 74 pitches in a complete game three-hitter.
The Panthers’ offense — which has seen its fair share of struggles — awoke from its slumber, collecting 13 hits in just six innings. Eleven Panthers had at least one hit, including eight of nine starters. Freshman Chandler Freeman, who has shown tremendous growth this season, had the most productive day of all, going 2-for-2 with a home run and four RBI.
“As far as run total goes, I don’t think we’ve had a better offensive game,” said Kristan. “There may have been games earlier in the season where we hit the ball better, but none were as important as this game.”
Freeman started the scoring with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. Ryan Ragle followed with an RBI single later in the inning to bring the score to 3-0.
In the second, Garrett Wright doubled home Travis Williamson to bring the score to 4-0. Freeman then struck again, doubling home two more runs to make it 6-0. He scored later in the inning on a passed ball.
Connor Thompson and Jaret Huddleston also drove in runs for the Panthers.
Liberty Hill will host La Vernia in game one of the bi-district best of three series at 7 p.m. this Friday. Game two will be 2 p.m. Saturday at La Vernia.
If a third game is necessary, it will be played immediately after game two.