Patriots get win over Wildcats via rare walk-off balk

April 6, 2010

By Bob Taylor

Scott Zerda, pinch-running in the seventh inning for leadoff hitter John McLeod, trots to home plate with the winning run on a bases-loaded balk by Mount Si pitcher Rossco Castagno. By Greg Farrar

It probably wasn’t the most dramatic way to win a game, but as high school coaches will tell you, a win is a win is a win.

The Liberty High School baseball team edged Mount Si 2-1 April 1 on a bases-loaded balk. No April Fools.

“You always like to be on the winning side of a nail biter,” Liberty coach Steve Darnell said.

The victory avenged a 15-6 defeat to Mount Si from the previous week. Liberty actually held a 6-4 lead before Mount Si stormed from behind in the sixth and seventh innings to win the game.

“We let that one get away from us,” Darnell said. “But there’s no doubt that Mount Si can swing the bats.”

The rematch was a pitchers’ duel between Liberty’s John McLeod and Mount Si’s Jason Kimborowicz.

“It was a great game Thursday. McLeod was dialing it in real well,” Darnell said. “Kimborowicz was throwing well. It was a great pitchers’ duel.”

The teams were scoreless through the first two innings. Mount Si took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but Liberty tied the score on a double by Ryan Maio in the bottom of the inning.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh when McLeod, known probably more for his pitching than his hitting, led off with a single.

“John had a decent year for us last year, hitting .295. However, this year, he has really been clutch for us. He has been hitting with power. He has been driving in runs. He has been a pleasant surprise,” Darnell said. “He’s pitched well and hit well. He has done the job for us.”

Scott Zerda went into the game as a pinch runner for McLeod. A hit and an intentional walk to Peter Wiggum loaded the bases. With Jason Hubbard coming up to the plate, Mount Si changed pitchers. Rossco Castagno relieved Kimborowicz. When Castagno tried a pickoff move, he balked, and Zerda crossed the plate with the winning run.

McLeod, who will pitch for Wake Forest next season, scattered five hits to pick up the victory.

The Patriots, the defending 3A/2A champions, raised their league record to 5-1 and stayed in a tie for first place with Mercer Island.

“You can’t be disappointed with a 5-1 record, especially with the league being so tough,” Darnell said. “But we still haven’t played a solid game yet. We haven’t played a game where we’ve had solid pitching, hitting and defense.”

Yet, the Patriots find a way to win.

“We have been the type of team that scratches and claws,” Darnell said. “It’s a hard way to win, but the team finds a way. Against Mount Si, everyone did their job. We put enough pressure on them that they made a mistake.”

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or Comment at

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