The Liberty Patriots baseball team played spoiler for the Kentwood Conquerors’ 2023 home opener taking the Conks down with a 6-3 score on March 14.
“This is a junior driven team … They’re not phased by anything, but also they’re still learning, and getting a win in this situation will really help them,” Head Coach Kevin Frey said.
The Patriots were one game shy of the state tournament last season, but as the team gets more experience, they’re poised to make the jump this season.
“We have to stay at it for seven innings … The resilience and battle the guys showed today is a sign of that … We just have to execute in big moments, and we did that today,” Frey said.
Senior Terry Hayes doesn’t see the state tournament as a goal, but something more.
“It’s our expectation. We’ve been working all offseason for it. I’m excited,” he said.
Liberty got out to an early lead on the Conks, scoring in the first inning after a leadoff walk from Mac Reynolds and a strikeout. The next three batters reached base. Reynolds stole second base and scored on a single from Terry Hayes, getting Liberty on the scoreboard early.
“I felt locked in and relaxed, got the first game out of the way yesterday and just felt good,” Hayes said.
After a tough first inning facing all nine Kentwood batters, Liberty sophomore lefty Ryan Boehm settled in for a clean second inning and an even better third inning. Boehm at one point threw eight consecutive strikes in the third, striking out two in a row over that stretch. Boehm started in place of a senior who was out for the game against Kentwood.
“It was important for him to get out there against quality opponents,” Coach Frye said.
During the middle innings, Liberty had a slow go of things. In the third, Liberty had runners on second and third, but it amounted to nothing in the end.
In the top of the sixth, the Patriots had their big inning. Over that frame, Liberty sent 10 batters to the plate. Hayes was at the center of the action, with a two-RBI single scoring Reynolds and Jack Warren, extending the lead. Elliot Oster recorded another RBI in the inning on a single, increasing the Patriot lead, 6-3.
“We’re gonna fight to the last out. Even if any of those extraneous situations weigh us down. We’re going to fight through and make things happen,” Hayes said.
In the seventh, Tyler Peschl got himself into a little trouble, walking the first two batters he faced. Peschl then retired the next batter with a flyout to right field, and the following batter as well. On the second fly ball, the Kentwood runner would be hung out to dry and doubled up on the play, ending the game.