Patriots’ postseason ends with tough loss

May 17, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

Liberty High School’s baseball playoff run came to an end May 10 with a 10-1 loss to Mercer Island in the first round of the 3A KingCo Conference tournament at Bellevue’s Bannerwood Sports Park.

Liberty entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed on the heels of a five-game winning streak that included a 3-0 victory at home against Mercer Island.

The loss was tough to swallow in the wake of the team’s late-season success.

“We ran into a tough team tonight,” Liberty coach Steve Darnell said. “They’re going to be some team to be reckoned with — I think — by the time it’s all done.”

The Patriots lost 13 seniors after the 2010 season, and they entered this season with only five returning varsity players. The season began as an uphill battle, and Liberty entered the final five games with a 4-10 overall record.

“A few weeks ago, we couldn’t even talk about playing in this game,” Darnell said. “It was really tough getting everybody to believe and play through that 21st out, but once we started doing that — scratching and clawing at all 21 — we really got it going.”

For the players, the late-season turnaround garnered critical momentum.

“We picked it up, finished strong, but came up a little bit short,” Liberty senior catcher Harrison Diemert said after the loss to Mercer Island.

Liberty senior second baseman Chris Weik said the team’s bonding played a large role in its success heading into the postseason.

“As the season went on we got better and better,” he said. “It was because we got closer and started playing for each other.”

In the tournament game, the Patriots jumped on top of Mercer Island pitcher Max Demmier in the top of the second inning, drawing two walks to start the inning. However, Mercer Island catcher Brian Higgins picked off Liberty’s Jacob Hofferber at second base, rocketing an accurate throw across the infield after a pitch as Hofferber attempted to get back to the bag.

The Patriots drew a third walk, putting runners on first and second with one out. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Diemert tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the runner — Ryan Maio — was thrown out at home for a fielder’s choice.

With runners on first and third with two outs, Liberty executed a double steal, sending Weik home after Diemert deliberately placed himself in a pickle. Maio crossed the plate before Diemert was thrown out to end the inning, giving the Patriots a 1-0 lead.

Regardless, Liberty’s offense was never able to fight back after the second inning, as Demmier found his stride. The Mercer Island pitcher worked six innings, ultimately only giving up one hit and the one run to Liberty batters.

Starting Liberty pitcher Izak Styskal gave up three runs in the bottom of the second inning, and reliever Miles Bruck gave up five runs in the bottom of the third inning.

Ben Wessel took over on the mound in the bottom of the fourth inning for Liberty, working the rest of the game. Wessel struck out four and walked three during his three innings, giving up two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Liberty will lose nine seniors during the offseason, but the team will return next year with players such as Wessel and Styskal, who will be seniors. With the lessons learned this season, the team could be primed for success next year.

“It was just a great season, and I think what the boys learned is that life is what you make of it. It’s not what others do to you,” Darnell said. “I think that’s a valuable lesson that we got through our season this year.”

Redmond ends Skyline’s baseball season

Skyline’s baseball season came to an end May 10 when the Spartans lost to Redmond, 7-0, in the 4A KingCo Conference tournament in Woodinville.

Redmond pitcher Zach Abbruzza held Skyline to two hits and struck out seven. Teammate Dylan Davis slammed a home run.

Matt Sinatro and Travis Snider accounted for Skyline’s hits.

Skyline also fell to Newport, 10-1, May 9.

Issaquah gets knocked out

Issaquah’s baseball season came to an end May 9 when the Eagles lost to Redmond, 15-3, in a loser-out 4A KingCo tournament game in Woodinville.

Issaquah finished the season with an 8-14 record.

Redmond knocked Issaquah starting pitcher Andrew Kemmerer out in the third inning when the Mustangs scored six runs to go ahead 7-0.

The Mustangs, regarded as one of the favorites for the KingCo title this year, had 13 hits, two that were home runs. Patrick McGrath, who had one of the home runs, drove in five runs. Nick Rothermel hit the other home run.

Jake Bakamus had two hits and drove in a run for Issaquah.

The Eagles had their youngest team in 18 years under coach Rob Reese. Issaquah had just three seniors on the roster. With most of the starters and all of the pitchers returning, the Eagles have high hopes for the 2012 season.

One of the highlights for Issaquah came early this season when Reese picked up his 300th career victory.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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