Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty pitcher Nathanael Samarin pitched the Hawks past top-seed Minarets in the Div. V Semifinal game. Samarin picked up the win during 17-0 rout of the Mustangs. The fourth-seeded Hawks played No. 2 Arvin on Friday in Visalia’s Rawhide Stadium for the Div. V championship.
What a night it was for the Liberty Hawks baseball team.
“Not every day you score 17 runs in game,” Liberty head coach Mario Cosma said.
After advancing from the quarterfinal round of the playoffs last week against Rosamond, the Hawks strung together 17 hits, forced four Minarets errors and walked six times to win 17-0 and advanced to the Div. V Valley Championship game Friday against No. 2 Arvin in Visalia’s Rawhide Stadium.
Once again, Nathanael Samarin pitched a gem for the Hawks. He went five and 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and striking out four.
On offense, it was a complete team effort. Seven different players had a hit, while five of those players had more than two. Bradley Moon and Eli Gonzalez each had four hits and combined for four RBIs and five runs.
Quaid Copher, Jameson Frazier and Colton Cardoza combined for seven hits, five RBIs and eight runs.
“We wanted timely two-out hits,” Cosma said. “Seven out of your nine guys accomplishing that feat really out the pressure on them.”
It was a perfect display of Hawk baseball and fortunately, the Liberty faithful came out in droves to
“They aren’t very far from us and emotions were very high,” Cosma said on the energy from the crowd. “I was pleased with the effort and support from the Ranchos, pleased to be a part of that.”
In terms of the game plan, the Hawks’ focus was on improving themselves, trying to get better.
“We didn’t want to look at what they were doing. Our plan was to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense,” Cosma said. “We worked throughout the week on that and we wanted to play solid defense. I was pleased with our defensive effort.”
Samarin opened the bottom half of the first inning with back-to-back strikeouts. His control, combined with velocity led to the strikeouts, along with a pop out to end the inning.
The Hawks took flight in the top of the second. Hits by Copher and Gonzalez and a walk by Frazier, loaded the bases for David Williams.
Williams hit a ball to shortstop for the fielder’s choice. Allowing Copher to score from third.
Gage Arter walked to reload the bases, which allowed Moon follow with an RBI single to right field. The ball jumped over the Minarets’ second baseman, allowing Frazier to score.
Liberty took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Samarin later walked, allowing Arter to score.
Colton Cardoza came to bat and while in the box, the Minarets catcher threw a ball to third that was too low. The third baseman missed the ball, allowing Moon to cross the plate and score.
The action picked up in the top of the fourth inning after Arter walked. Moon stepped up and placed a bunt down directly in front of the catcher.
The Mustang catcher fired to first base, overshooting his target. The ball rolled into the outfield, allowing Moon to scramble all the way around the bases to push the lead to six runs.
The Hawks’ aggressive approach continued to pay dividends. Of course, another error on the Mustangs made things easier.
Liberty tacked on three runs after a soft single turned into three runs. A walk and a single set up Copher.
He singled, allowing Samarin and Cardoza to cross the plate. The throw from the Mustang infielder sailed into the outfield, once again, allowing Copher to cross the plate.
Liberty took a nine-run lead and never looked back. They capitalized on their momentum to tack on eight more runs in the game.