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Who’s got the hottest baseball team in the area, at the opening of the season?
We’ll give you a hint: The name starts with an “L” and ends with a “Y.”
That’s right. Liberty has been tearing up the diamond, reeling off a 4-0 record to open its 2011 campaign.
The Minutemen’s biggest win during that stretch may well have come against Staunton River, a team that is ascendent.
Last Friday night, Liberty took care of River, 5-1, on the Golden Eagles’ diamond.
The M-Men were paced by Kody Outhong, who stymied the Eagles over five full innings.
Staunton River did little to help itself, committing five errors in the game.
“Liberty hit the ball well early on,” acknowledged River Head Coach Brian Divers. “And Outhong comes right at you. He was difficult for us to hit.”
The left-handed senior went five full innings before yielding to Jordan Eubank, who shut River down over the last two stanzas.
Matt Kerr led the Liberty offense, driving in the game’s first two runs. Cam Morck’s single drove in a run, while Outhong sent home a run on a sacrifice fly. Josh Martin, a courtesy runner for catcher Adam Warnalis, who had hit a single, scooted home on a wild pitch.
“This was an important win for us,” said Liberty Head Coach Stewart Grant, pointing out that River ambushed Liberty last year in this contest. “Hopefully, this sets the tone, unlike last year.”
Liberty pitchers scattered five hits over the seven innings, the most significant being Paul Williams’s double.
That hit yielded nil as a subsequent suicide squeeze was missed, resulting in the suicide part of the play, rather than the squeeze.
Staunton River’s Cam Paksoy started for River. He went four and two-thirds innings and left trailing, 3-0.
Reliever Chance Witt yielded a pair of runs, and Thomas Morris pitched a silent seventh.
“Liberty is a good team,” said Divers. “They will be in the Seminole mix.”
This week, the team is certainly playing that way. “Everyone has to contribute for us to do well,” said Grant. “And, so far, they have.”
Indeed, a look at what Liberty has done so far does not have any individual outshining all others.
Yet, it has many who are doing much. Within 14 hours of closing out Staunton River, Liberty found itself facing Pulaski in a double header.
The Minutemen swept both sides of that one, 7-2 and 2-0.
Those victories featured pitching and batting heroics.
In the later game, Thomas Schacter came within a whisker of tossing a no-hitter. The strapping senior posted a one-hit beaut.
In fact, that hit was quickly nullified when Liberty turned a double play right afterwards.
So, over the five-inning contest, Schacter faced only one batter above the minimum, due to a base on balls.
“That was a great pitching performance,” said Grant, of the senior hurler.
Schacter got all the help he needed when Houston Hensley mauled a home run in the first inning.
The opener was a bit crazier. In that one, Hensley picked up the win.
The key runs were posted via a Corey Witt home run that scored three runs. That blast, to dead center field, helped the M-Men withstand a Cougar rally.
Tyler Reynolds also smacked a homer, a two-run shot, in the first.