Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Chase Schellenger reaches out for a pitch during Tuesday’s Fowler Easter Classic championship game. He had three hits in the game and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player with a .500 tourney batting average.
FOWLER — The Liberty Hawks baseball team started slow at the 35th annual Fowler Easter Baseball Classic, but bounced back with three straight wins to take the championship.
The Hawks, who were shut out in the first game of the tournament Saturday against Minarets, came back on the same day to defeat Taft.
Two days later the Hawks added a 4-0 win against Kingsburg. In the championship game, the Hawks took down Firebaugh 13-2.
“That first game was a realization for us,” Liberty sophomore Quaid Copher said. “We took it hard, so we came back ready to swing, ready to play some good defense, ready to not lose anymore in this tournament.”
Liberty pitcher Gage Arter was named the Most Valuable Pitcher of the tournament. Arter had a shutout win against Taft and he was the winning pitcher in the championship game. Liberty senior Chase Schellenger was named the tournament MVP. Schellenger had a batting average of .500 and four RBIs.
“There are a lot of solid teams here,” Liberty head coach Mario Cosma said. “Fowler has always done a good job of hosting this tournament. We’re honored to be in it.”
Minarets 1 Liberty 0
With a no-hitter by Tylor Painter, the Minaret Mustangs took down the Hawks in the opening game of the Fowler Easter Classic.
Painter gave up three walks in the sixth inning, but the Hawks were unable to score despite loading the bases.
The Mustangs scored their only run of the game in the first inning. Copher pitched two innings and recorded one strikeout, while Nathanael Samarin pitched in four innings and struck out five batters.
Liberty 8 Taft 2
After losing the opening game against Minarets earlier in the day, the Hawks bounced back a few hours later with an 8-2 win against Taft.
Liberty scored its first two runs in the third inning, tacked on two more runs in the fourth then put together another string of runs in the sixth inning.
Samarin drove in Copher and Schellenger, while Colton Cardoza hit a ball to the centerfield wall to drive in Samarin, helping the Hawks add to their lead in the sixth inning.
Schellenger struck out two batters in the sixth inning to keep the Wildcats scoreless, but they finally got on the board with two runs in the seventh inning.
“It’s good to see that we bounced back,” Cosma said. “That’s a quality team. They’re ranked first in Div. IV, so for us to respond against a team like that, I’m real happy with the effort.”
Liberty 4 Kingsburg 0
The Hawks took down Kingsburg 4-0 to win their second game of the Fowler Easter Baseball Classic.
Copher led the way in the shutout, pitching a complete game with five hits allowed and five strikeouts.
“I felt really confident,” Copher said. “It’s nice to have a defense behind you that’s not making errors, making the tough plays, making it look easy.”
Senior Bradley Moon, freshman Jakson Bucher, Schellenger and senior Colton Cardoza each recorded an RBI in the win.
Moon, Copher, Samarin and Cardoza each scored a run.
“We had a great all-around game today,” Copher said. “Our defense was unbelievable, offense came to the plate.”
Liberty 13 Firebaugh 2
The Hawks started fast and never looked back in the championship game against Firebaugh, winning 13-2 on Tuesday.
Cardoza hit a single in the second inning then scored the game’s first run on an error. Bucher followed up with an RBI to drive in Trevor Porter and make it 2-0.
Arter allowed two hits in the third inning, but the Eagles left runners on second and third base.
Senior Stefan Sidur drove in Moon in the fourth inning, while Rylan Howe’s bunt drove in Bucher to make it 4-0.
Schellenger kicked off the fifth inning with a double to deep left field, then scored when a wild pitch went past the catcher.
Firebaugh scored its first run in the fifth inning and tacked on its second in the sixth inning.
The Hawks, however, put the game away for good in the seventh inning where they scored eight runs.
Bucher led the Hawks with three RBIs while Schellenger and Samarin each added two RBIs.
Arter pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and striking out two batters.
“The defense has my back,” Arter said. “Even if they made an error, they came right back and made plays the whole game.”
The Hawks had lost 8-2 against Firebaugh earlier in the season.
“We came in with a chip on our shoulder because when they beat us, they were loud and dogging us,” Schellenger said.