Baseball: Liberty falls to defending state champs in extra innings

Senior Terry Hayes throws six innings and hits a home run in the KingCo semifinal.

The Liberty Patriots baseball team fell to Mercer Island High School in extra innings in the KingCo semifinals May 8 by a score of 3-2.

Going into the bottom of the seventh, the Patriots had a 2-0 lead over the Islanders. Liberty surrendered two runs in the seventh and Mercer Island got the winning run in the seventh.

“It’s hard to put the final dagger in sometimes, when you’re facing a foe that’s so resilient,” Liberty Head Coach Kevin Frey said.

Last season, the Patriots lost in the KingCo Championship and fell one game shy of the state tournament. This year they have to win two games in the losers bracket to make their way to the state tournament.

Mercer Island is the defending 3A state champion and the Patriots gave them a hard time — and this year have had success against them, winning 2-1 and losing 1-0. The KingCo is one of the most competitive leagues in the state, and the Patriots are right in the thick of things.

Terry Hayes on the mound in the game against Mercer Island. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Terry Hayes on the mound in the game against Mercer Island. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Coach Frey knows that these games are battles.

“They’re battles, they always are. None of the teams quit. You’re gonna have situations where the other team gets an extra break or an extra play and wins … We made some fantastic plays, but Mercer Island is the defending state champs and they’re resilient,” he said.

For the first six innings, Terry Hayes was winning the game on his own. He started on the mound for the Patriots and went 6.0 + IP for Liberty. Over his first six innings, he held the defending champs off the scoreboard, gave up five singles, and struck out three. One of the runs that scored in the seventh was an earned run, but both runs that scored were Hayes’ batters.

“Oh gosh…His performance today was all about leadership. Your actions go out and prove it, go out and lead the team,” Frey said.

Hayes also smacked the go-ahead home run in the top of the sixth with two out. The Bellevue College commit was single-handedly keeping one of the best teams at bay and also broke the scoreless tie.

“I yelled ‘Get out!’ I had a feeling,” Hayes said on his home run.

But even with his performance, his teammates picked him up when he needed them. A huge double play from Kaden Kauzlarich to Jack Warren closed the Islander sixth in a huge way. Then in the seventh, the bottom of the lineup consisting of Kauzlarich and Payne Heeter reached with singles, and Elias Oster reached on an error, scoring Kauzlarich and extending the lead 2-0.

“I found in baseball it’s very hard to carry the entire team. Having a team that contributes to big ABs, quality ABs was really helpful. It gave me confidence going out in that last inning,” Hayes said.

In the seventh, the Patriots couldn’t keep the Islanders at bay, however they did limit the damage. Hayes was replaced in the seventh by Elias Oster without recording an out in the inning. But he didn’t let that phase his confidence: “I wish I could do that last inning over again. It just didn’t go my way this time,” Hayes said.

Of all three runs the Islanders scored, the ball reached the outfield grass once. The one hit dribbled out to the grass.

One of the two runs in the seventh scored on a fielder’s choice and the next on a passed ball. In the eighth, the Islanders hit a lead-off triple, followed by a groundout to third. After back to back intentional walks, Oster struck out one for two outs in the inning. Mercer Island senior and Gonzaga University commit Marques Abulhosn slapped a single that hit off the third baseman and shortstop’s glove as the winning run came across home plate.