In a heated rivalry between Hazen and Liberty on the baseball diamond, Liberty came out on top in a big way winning 16-4 over the Highlanders on April 22.
“We battled their pitchers, put some good swings on the ball … Our guys stayed tough mentally, and we didn’t lose our composure,” said Liberty Head Coach Kevin Frey.
The two teams came into the contest going opposite directions. Hazen was coming in hot, winning four games in a row and outscoring opponents 30-11 over the four games. Liberty was on a two-game losing streak, and possibly their worst game of the season losing to Lake Washington 15-5 two games prior.
The Patriots’ 16 runs in the game against Hazen was the same number of runs as their last five games combined. Eight of the 16 came on just three hits in the first five innings. The Patriots have been working on being tough outs for opposing pitchers. “We know playoffs are coming and we’ve got to be able to be productive,” Frye said.
One of many unique stat lines from this ball game was Hazen only struck out once and totaled eight hits. Liberty struck out eight times and had nine hits, yet still won the game by 12.
Hazen scored the first runs of the game in the third inning. Alvin Chang drove in the first run on the eighth pitch of his at-bat to score Michael Curry. With two outs in the inning, Marcus McCarthy scored Chang with his second single of the day.
The Patriots responded in the fourth with three runs in the inning. Liberty loaded the bases with no outs in the inning and scored their first run after Elliot Oster was hit by a pitch. Payne Heeter hit a ground ball to the shortstop and was able to beat the throw to score another run and keep the inning alive. The third run of the inning was scored on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the fourth, Hazen tied the game 3-3 when Change hit a double to right field which scored Riley Ottele.
Liberty then went on to score 13 runs over the next three innings. Nine of the runs were driven in by five different Patriots. Five different Liberty players registered multi-RBI games, but Heeter led the Patriots with three on the night. The middle of the order, which had Oster, Terry Hayes and Rohne Klein all touched home three times.
The performance that the team needed came out of the bullpen from Keaton Kauzlarich. He pitched three and a third innings allowing one hit and one earned run while only walking two.
“He came in and threw strikes and attacked hitters. They put some good swings on it but he got some strikeouts and got our defense involved. That’s what you want to keep the momentum going,” Frye said.
Kauzlarich entered the game in the fourth and kept hitters at bay. At one point he sat down seven of nine Hazen hitters from the fourth to the sixth inning.
The one run that scored off Kauzlarich was in the seventh, Kyle Tat drove in Rydan Corwin with a double to cap the scoring 16-4.
For Hazen, Chang and McCarthy were the only batters with more than one hit. Chang had three to McCarthy’s two.
As it sits in the standings: Hazen, Bellevue and Juanita all sit with seven overall wins. But Hazen only has two league wins this season. With four games remaining they play Bellevue twice, Lake Washington and Interlake once to close the league schedule.
Liberty sits in third at 12-4 overall and 7-3 in the league. The top six make the league tournament and the winner of the league tournament goes to state and the runner-up has to win an additional game to make the regional round. Liberty hasn’t clinched yet but is inching close to securing a spot in the league tournament.
“With this win hopefully it gets us back on track and build momentum mentally so that we can go out and play a great week,” Frye said.