Patriots’ run through state ends in 9-5 loss to the Blazers
May 26, 2009
By Jim Feehan
Neither rain, nor lightning, nor change of venue prevented the Liberty High School baseball team from clinching the final state playoff berth.
Troy Colyer slugged a two-out, three-run homerun in the bottom of the fifth inning to lead the Patriots to a 3-2 victory May 20 against West Seattle.
Unfortunately, for the Patriots, the season came to an end May 23 when they lost to Timberline 9-5 in the 3A state regionals in Centralia. Liberty finished the season with a 20-5 record.
But before getting to the regionals, the KingCo Conference champion Patriots had to weather a storm in a playoff with Metro League representative West Seattle.
The teams began play May 19 at Bannerwood Park. Officials suspended the game in the top half of the fifth inning after a rainstorm, complete with thunder and lightning, that swept through the area. The game resumed the following afternoon at Sammamish High School, because Bannerwood was unavailable.Liberty starting pitcher John McLeod allowed three hits and no runs during four innings before the rainstorm suspended the game. Dan Eck pitched three strong innings in relief, allowing one earned run in picking up the win for Liberty.
Colyer provided the offense highlights going 2-3 with a three-run homerun to win the game. West Seattle pitcher Brandon MacKinnon’s first pitch to Colyer was a curve. His second pitch was a fastball that Colyer sent over the left field fence.
“I always go by a motto: Big players in big games make big plays, and I thought I need to be a leader on the team and I really need to get into one,” Colyer said.
Cameron Talley led off the fifth inning with a double to right center field that rolled to the fence. Eric Etter drew a walk. Troy Askins grounded out to the pitcher, and then Kyle Arbaugh flied out to left field, bringing Colyer up with two out and two runners aboard.
“Troy is a clutch player and that’s what clutch players do,” Liberty coach Steve Darnell said about Colyer’s homerun blast.
West Seattle’s Stephan Adams hit a two-out, two-RBI double in the top half of the fifth inning.
Liberty committed no errors and McLeod and Eck both turned in stellar pitching performances, Darnell said.
“We had McLeod on a 50-pitch count,” Darnell said. “We said before the game we want three quality innings, and he had been running his count up in the last three outings. We got 53 pitches through four innings, so that was a beautiful moment.”
Eck allowed two hits and one earned run while recording three strikeouts.
“Danny Eck has been our go-to guy and he’s going to continue in that role,” Darnell said. “He likes getting the ball when the game is on the line.”
Defeating West Seattle was payback time for some of the players on last year’s squad. West Seattle knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs last season in a playoff game for the final state playoff berth.
“West Seattle is a quality team,” Darnell said during a post-game interview. “They have a great legacy of baseball excellence. They pushed those two runs across with two outs and they didn’t blink.”
Darnell said the team remains undaunted in its run to the state playoffs.
“Every time some situation tried to keep them down and put them into a position of folding, they focus and get the job done,” he said.
Timberline tops Patriots
Liberty, in the state tournament for the first time since 2005, fell behind 5-0 to Timberline in the second inning. The Patriots countered with three runs in the top of the third, but couldn’t overcome Timberline. Askins had two hits and Colyer drove in two runs for the Patriots.
Tahoma knocks out Eagles
Issaquah, trying to reach the state semifinals again, saw its season end May 16 when the Eagles lost to Tahoma 7-6 in a nine-inning battle for the regional title at Tacoma’s Heidelberg Park.
Issaquah won its opener 7-1 against South Kitsap. Pitcher Shane Yarnell had 11 strikeouts. Brennan Miller and Miles Perkins each had two hits for the Eagles.
In the regional title game, Tahoma took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and led through most of the game. Tahoma led 6-4 going into the top of the seventh inning, when Issaquah came back to tie the score and send the game into extra innings.
Michael Paulson drove in one of the runs with a double. A bases-loaded walk tied the score. Tahoma relief pitcher Zach Aaker then struck out two batters to end the threat.
In the eighth inning, Issaquah almost scored the go-ahead run from third on a wild pitch, but Tahoma catcher Cory Ferguson retrieved the ball quickly and threw it back to pitcher Jerad Casper, who tagged out Marcus Gaan at the plate.
Gavin Shumaker had three hits and Michael Dixon had two hits to lead the Eagles, who finished the season at 14-12.