Behind the hot hitting of Colton Cardoza and the clutch pitching of Nathanael Samarin, the Liberty Hawks baseball team avenged an earlier loss with a 6-3 victory over the Chowchilla Redskins to remain at the top of the North Sequoia League.
The Hawks (14-7, 9-2) have their sights on the elusive NSL championship and are two games ahead of second place Kerman with four games to play.
Cardoza hit two triples and drove in four runs while Samarin tossed six innings of scoreless ball before tiring in the seventh to lead the Hawks to the win.
“How can you argue with six strong innings,” head coach Kevin Rosenwinkel said. “He threw six solid innings in these conditions with the wind not going for him, that was a good day.”
The victory Thursday eased the sting of Tuesday’s loss when the Hawks allowed five seventh inning runs in a walk-off loss to the Redskins.
“You go into the seventh inning leading 8-4 and lose 9-8, you definitely want to get out there again,” Rosenwinkel said.
The Hawks also got a triple from Samarin and a run scoring single from Wyatt Harpain.
“This was one of our better offensive days,” Rosenwinkel said. “We scored more runs than we typically do. We got guys over, got them over and got them in. Just like we practice it. Now, if our defense would come through.”
Samarin cruised through the first six innings against the Redskins. He allowed just three hits and struck out seven in the first six innings. He retired nine straight with five strikeouts through the middle innings.
Liberty helped its pitcher out in the second with two runs and Samarin helped his cause with a triple to the centerfield fence. Cardoza went the opposite way with a drive down the right field line. He ran through Rosenwinkel’s stop sign rounding second and slid head-first into third with a triple to drive in Samarin.
Cardoza scored when Isaiah Torres grounded into a double play for a 2-0 lead.
Liberty added three runs in the fourth.
Bradley Moon reached on an error and went to third on an errant pick-off throw. Samarin walked and stole second. With runners at second and third, Cardoza singled up the middle to drive in Moon and Samarin.
Chris Estrada singled pinch-runner Dakota Massey to second and a groundout moved the runners to second and third. Harpain singled to left to drive in Massey for a 5-0 lead.
Liberty added to its total in the fifth when Jacob Brauer led off with a single and stole second. However, Brauer was caught trying to take third on Moon’s grounder back to the box. Brauer was tagged out for the first out of the inning. Moon went to second on a wild pitch and to third on Samarin’s groundout. Cardoza tripled off the right fielder’s glove to drive in Moon for a 6-0 lead.
Chowchilla gave Rosenwinkel and the Hawks a sense of dejá vu in the top of the seventh. An error, single and triple cut Liberty’s lead to 6-2.
Jameson Frazier came in relief and struck out the first batter he faced. A single scored another Chowchilla run, but Frazier struck out the next batter. Frazier went 0-2 on the next batter, but hit him on the next pitch.
Frazier steadied himself and struck out the next batter to end the game and the Chowchilla comeback.