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Panthers let one slip away
Bryan County comes back for 9-8 win
Samuel Wilson
Samuel Wilson dives back to first during Liberty Countys 9-8 extra-innings loss to Bryan County on Monday in Pembroke. The setback was the Panthers first of the 2011 season. Liberty led, 5-0, before Bryan County rallied.

Liberty County High School’s Matt Desbiens and Patrick McDonald each launched three-run home runs Monday at Bryan County High School, but the Redskins came back in extra innings to win, 9-8.

The loss dropped Liberty County to 2-1. It also may have been an eye opener, assistant coach Zach Duncan said.

"I think we may have come into the Bryan County game tonight thinking we were better than we are," he said. "We did get two three-run homers tonight offensively, and that was the highlight. We missed several signs, and we didn’t execute very well offensively."

Early on it was Liberty’s game. While starting pitcher Tony Smith kept the Redskins’ bats quiet, the Panthers scored in the second and then added four more in the fourth — three coming on Desbiens’ homer to left.

But Liberty found it hard to put away pesky Bryan County. The Redskins picked up a pair of runs in the third to chase Smith, then added four more in the fourth to go up, 6-5, thanks in part to Panthers miscues.

"We just had too many mental errors tonight," Duncan said. "We had errors on defense by some senior players and some mental errors that allowed Bryan County to remain in the game."

Yet Bryan County’s lead also was short-lived. After two runners reached base to start the fifth inning, McDonald hit a two-out home run off reliever Matthew Herb to put the Panthers up, 8-6.

But Liberty went through a number of pitchers as the game wore on while Herb settled down and kept the Panthers off balance at the plate.

That allowed the Redskins to catch up with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.

Neither team scored again until the bottom of the ninth, when Bryan’s Alex Covington reached on a walk from McDonald and stole second. Garrett Riggleman singled between second and first to score Covington and send the Panthers to their first loss of the season.

"We played well defensively and our base running was solid tonight," Bryan County coach Tony Dragon said. "Corey Cook started out pitching well for us, and Matthew Herb came on in relief and did a fine job against a team that can flat out hit the ball. I am proud of the way our guys kept hanging in there and battling."

The Panthers had 13 hits. McDonald was 3 for 4 with a home run and four RBIs; Desbiens was 2 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs; Mike Lovelady was 3 for 4 with a run scored and Brandon Whitmore was 2 for 4.

Smith allowing one run on three hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings before giving way in order to Trey Sikes, Desbiens, Whimore, JaVaughn Shuman and McDonald.


Editor’s note: Liberty County beat Pierce County, 9-8, on Saturday in Blackshear. Whitmore got the win and Joe Watkins earned the save.

Watkins also hit his second two-run homer of the season and McDonald doubled in three runs late in the game.

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