The Liberty County Panthers came out relaxed and ready to have fun during Saturday’s home game against Burke. The mellow mood made for better hitting as the Panthers slugged their way to a 10-6 win against the visiting Bears.
Next, the Panthers traveled to Pierce County on Monday for a non-region game, but a few field errors led to a 6-12 loss
Liberty vs. Burke
"I was proud of the guys for coming into today’s game ready to play," Panther baseball coach David Samuel said. "We had enthusiasm and fun that I haven’t seen in a week and a half. It’s a lot of fun for everyone when we come out ready to play."
Samuel credited his pitching staff.
"Justin (Eaton) came out and set down the first 10 batters in order," Samuel said. "He did not give up a hit until the 4th inning. He looked strong until he got tired in the 7th inning, then Eddie (Chipple) came in to shut the door."
Samuel said his batters collected 9 hits, 2 doubles and a homer. Nine Panthers were walked and three were hit by the Bears’ pitcher and got on base.
"When 20-plus runners reach base, runs will be scored," the coach said. "We had fun and took advantage of the situations we had. I was happy that most at bats were unselfish. We played as a team and the end result shows it."
Samuel said Burke committed a few errors, which helped the Panther score 10.
"I keep telling the guys that we are right in the mix with the rest of the teams in the region," the coach added. "I haven’t seen one team that looks better than us. We will build on our successes from today to get better and better. Now that we have our first region win, I’m looking for good things to happen."
Liberty vs. Pierce County
Samuel said his players came out swinging, getting 14 hits in the game. He said his players are seeing the ball better and are getting good swings at the plate.
"Tonight we made a few key errors that made the pitchers go longer in innings than they should have," he said. "It’s hard to pitch when the defense lets you down."
The coach said defensive errors forced pitcher Eddie Chipple to face more batters than he should have.
"A few ground balls should have been fielded and our outfielders overthrew the cutoff man several times, allowing Pierce County base runners to take extra bases," Samuel said. "Chris Rafferty came in for the 5th and 6th innings and did a terrific job. He faced 7 batters, retiring 6 of them."
Samuel said the Panthers plan to sharpen up the defense and continue to work on their hitting.
"If we can get all parts of our game going at the same time we’ll be very tough to beat," Samuel said.
The Panthers improve to 1-3 in region 3-AAA and 4-5 overall.
The Panthers host Glynn Academy today at 5 p.m.
Stats from last three games:
West Laurens 8, Liberty County 3
Losing pitcher, Joe Watkins: 5 1/2 IP, 7H 8R, 5ER, 5K, 5BB, 1HP
Relief pitcher, Chris Arnold: 2/3 IP
Hitters, Chris Arnold 2-4 with a double and Matt Desbiens with a base hit
Liberty County 10, Burke County 6
Winning pitcher, Justin Eaton: 6 1/3 IP, 7 K, 2 BB, 1 HP, 7H, 6R
Save, Eddie Chipple: 2/3 IP
Leading hitters, Cameron Harris: 2-2 with a double, Cody French: 3-4, 1 2B, 2RBI, Chris Arnold: 2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, Eddie Chipple: 1 hit and an RBI, Justin Eaton: 1 hit
Pierce County 12, Liberty County 6
Losing pitcher, Eddie Chipple: 3 2/3 IP, 7H, 8ER, 1 K
Relief pitchers, Chris Arnold: 2/3 IP, 4H, Chris Rafferty: 2 IP, 1H
Hitters, Chris Arnold: 4-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI, Eddie Chipple: 3-4, 1 RBI, Cameron Harris: 2-3, Justin Eaton: 2-4, 2 RBI, Zach Hensley: 2-4, Cody French: 1 hit