Liberty County celebrated its seniors in the final regular-season home game of their career Friday, but the Panthers were denied a win in their 4-0 loss to region power Wayne County.
The Panthers’ five seniors are catcher J.T. Evans, pitcher Curtis Michelowicz, center fielder Gary Albertson, right field Jeremy Scott and shortstop Lamar Speight.
The Yellow Jackets produced 32 runs over 10 innings in the last two games they played against Liberty.
“We have been improving and playing better. South Effingham, which is one of the best teams in the state in any class, only had us down a few runs but took advantage of errors, which opened the door to a big inning,” Panthers head coach Tony Glazer said. “Region 3A-AAAA playing South Effingham, Wayne and Statesboro in the sub-region is one of the toughest in the state.” Liberty starting pitcher Curtis Michelowicz kept Wayne off-balance with ball placement and pitch selection. Wayne got its first hitter aboard off of a sharp infield hit to the shortstop. The Yellow Jackets plated one run, but Michelowicz struck out two straight batters, and Panther left fielder Parker Neely made a diving catch that saved another run.
The Panthers couldn’t get any offense going in the bottom of the first inning despite hitting the ball well. After walking a couple of Yellow Jackets in the top of the third inning, Wayne pushed another run across the plate to take a 2-0 lead.
Liberty bent but didn’t break in the top of the second. Michelowicz had to work from behind in some counts, but his pitching along with strong defense got Liberty out of the inning.
Michelowicz got in a jam in the top of sixth with walks, and Albertson came to finish the game. Wayne added two more runs for insurance.
“Curtis pitched excellent. He pitches like how you would want a senior to pitch on senior night,” Glazer said.
Michelowicz finished with five strikeouts in five innings.
Despite not generating a lot of offense at the plate with baserunners from a pair of walks and a hit batter, Liberty played strong defense, which kept them in the game against Wayne.
“Our defense was great all night. Quinndon Montgomery and Parker Neely were the two defensive standouts. Wayne county is a top program in the state every year, and the fact that we were able to make them earn the win just shows how hard our boys have been working and have been improving,” Glazer said.