In the end, Liberty’s season-ending 6-3 loss to West Seattle on Tuesday was an issue of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Liberty, a team built to manufacture runs, played its biggest game of the season in a park that enourages runs to fly over the fence.
“We played in a hitters ball park,” said Liberty coach Scott Colby. “They hit three balls that would have been caught in our yard. But we weren’t playing in our yard.”
A win in the KingCo 3AMetro playoff game would have sent Liberty to the 3A state tournament; West Seattle takes that spot instead.
West Seattle got to work early with a two-run home run by Tyler Cherin in the bottom of the first inning. Ryan Wiggins added another shot for the Wildcats with his solo home run in the second inning.
After two frames, the Patriots found themselves down 3-0 and with a challenge ahead of them.
“We’re made for pitching, defense and small ball this year,” Colby said. “Our players are gritty, they’ve fought all season long… They scratched tooth and nail to get back.”
Things got worse when shortstop Eric Peterson went down with an injury. Peterson’s injury, compounded with Jaron Iwakami’s unavailability due to injury, left Liberty in a tough spot offensively.
Liberty got on the board with one run in the fourth, but West Seattle put the game farther out of reach with a three-run fifth inning. Liberty scored two runs in the sixth to bring the score to 6-3.
The Patriots actually out hit the Wildcats 7-5, they just couldn’t convert the hits into runs.
The loss was just Liberty’s fourth of the season by two runs or more. The Patriots worked through the KingCo 3A gauntlet this season with a number of close games.
“My guys have played a lot of close games this year,” Colby said. “Probably the most close games for a high school team that I’ve ever coached.”
Liberty finished the year 13-10 overall and 9-7 in the KingCo 3A.
The Patriots made a strong turnaround just to make the playoffs. The team hit a rough patch from April 16 through the end of the regular season, losing five of seven games. Liberty then went 3-1 in the KingCo tournament to make it to the KingCo 3A/Metro playoff game.
Looking ahead to next season, Colby said there is “a whole lot to be excited about.”
Shorstop Eric Peterson will return for his senior season. “He swings probably the best stick in the league,” Colby said. “It was a down year numbers-wise, but the numbers don’t show that he got pitched around a lot. He didn’t see a whole lot of good pitches this year, then he started pressing towards the end of the season and that didn’t help.”
John Mcleod looked strong on the mound this season and also plays first base. Second baseman Troy Colyer returns. Third baseman Nick Hart will also be back, giving Liberty a strong infield to work with.
The Patriots will have a couple of big holes to fill. Chandler Tracy behind the plate and Jaron Iwakami in center field. Tracy led the team in batting with a .365 average and RBIs with 13. Iwakami was second in batting average, at .358 and led the team with nine steals.
Adam McFadden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.