First-year Liberty County baseball coach Joel Moody claimed his first official win of the regular season Tuesday after his Panther squad knocked out Johnson High, 16-0, in three innings at home.
Panthers pitcher Curtis Michalowicz started the game by striking out the first two Johnson batters. He gave up a base hit, but immediately struck out another batter to end the inning.
The Panthers’ Gary Albertson hit a one-hopper to center to get on first base then promptly stole second. Michalowicz hit one to left field to drive in Albertson. Deshaun Collins followed suit, hitting the same spot on the field for an RBI. Collins later advanced to second and stole third. Antonio Smith walked and Jake Lee got two RBIs with a shot down the third-base line. Lee scored on a wild pitch. Richard Lovelady hit a single and Vince Smith walked. Another wild pitch advanced Smith and Lee a base. Confusion in the infield during the next at-bat allowed Smith and Lee to run home.
When the dust settled, the Panthers led 7-0 at the end of the inning.
In the top of the second inning, Michalowicz got out of a two-on, one-out jam by striking out two straight batters.
“I was very pleased with Curtis on the mound,” Moody said. “He had a few wild ones in the second … but he managed to get out of the inning, and that showed a little bit of character. When the situation started to get a little bit out of hand, he was able to rein it back in and finish the inning.”
In the bottom of the frame, Collins singled and stole second, Smith walked and Mike Lovelady got on when Johnson High’s shortstop bobbled Lovelady’s ground ball.
The ball bounced out of the infielders’ glove, and the Panthers loaded the bases. Lee walked to bring in a run, and Richard Lovelady followed with an RBI. After a pitching change for Johnson, a throwing error by the pitcher with runners on first and third plated another Panthers run. Lee scored on a wild pitch, and Smith scored on an infield error. Liberty added four more runs with two outs.
In the top of the third, Michalowicz struck out two batters and an Atom Smasher was thrown out at second to seal the win.
The Panthers traveled to Benedictine on Thursday; results were unavailable at press time. Liberty County hosts Windsor Forest in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. Saturday.