Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Quaid Copher slides safely into third for a three run triple in the third inning of Monday’s loss to the Washington Union Panthers.
After defeating the Washington Union-Easton Panthers 12-1 in the first round, the Liberty Hawks baseball team was looking for an easy win the second time they played them.
However, the Panthers stayed in the game and scored a late run to record a 6-5 victory Monday at Liberty without Liberty head coach Mario Cosma, who had to miss the game due to an ejection the game before.
Freshman Quaid Copher did what he could, but took the loss, allowing six runs in 5 2/3 innings, although two runs were unearned.
Gage Arter allowed one hit with three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings in relief.
Copher led the Hawks with two hits — a double and a triple — and drove in three runs. Colton Cardoza and Eli Gonzalez each had two hits.
The Panthers got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning with a two out, nobody on rally. After two strikeouts, Copher hit a batter. The next batter reached on a catcher’s interference.
Washington Union executed a perfect first-and-third steal to score another run. An error allowed the Panthers’ third run to score.
Liberty came right back in the bottom of the inning. Nathanael Samarin led off the inning with a single up the middle. Cardoza doubled to the left-centerfield fence to drive in Samarin.
Cardoza went to third on a groundout. Jameson Frazier singled and stole second. After a strikeout, Rylan Howe drew another walk to load the bases.
Copher hit a 3-1 pitch over the centerfielder’s head to drive in Cardoza, Frazier and Howe for a triple and a 4-3 lead.
The Panthers reclaimed the lead in the third after a leadoff walk. A double put runners at first and second. Copher loaded the bases by hitting the next batter. However, he induced a 6-4-3 double play, but the Panthers scored a run. After another hit batter, Washington Union executed another successful first-and-third steal for a 5-4 lead.
With one out in the fourth, Arter hit a liner to the right-centerfield gap. The ball went past the diving right fielder and Arter raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to tie the score.
Both pitchers settled down. Copher retired seven of the next eight batters until the sixth inning.
A lead-off single, sacrifice and groundout put the go-ahead run at third with two outs. Copher allowed back-to-back hits to drive in the Panthers’ go-ahead run.
Arter came in relief and allowed a seventh inning single before striking out the side.
The Hawks were stymied at the plate late in the game. Panthers pitcher Kaden Fusi retired nine of the final 11 batters. He allowed two singles, but both runners didn’t get past second base.
The Coyotes battled Washington Union Friday and close out the regular season Monday and Thursday against Chowchilla with senior night on Monday.