Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty senior David Williams stumbles on his way to third base during the fifth inning of Monday’s loss to the Kerman Lions.
The Liberty Hawks baseball team knew it had a tough task ahead in trying to unseat the Kerman Lions from running its Central Section-best league winning streak to 10 years in a row in Monday’s match-up.
The Lions peppered 16 hits in a 12-4 victory at Liberty to clinch at least a tie for their 10th straight NSL title. The Lions followed that with a win Wednesday over Sierra-Tollhouse to win the title outright.
The Hawks needed to sweep the Lions this week in order to unseat the Lions, but couldn’t come away with the first win Monday.
“We ran into a buzz saw today,” head coach Mario Cosma said. “They put together some innings. When you are collecting four or five hits an inning consecutively and scoring runs like that, it’s tough to respond. We had something going in the fifth. They came right back. That was the difference in the ball game. They out hit us today.”
The Lions scored three runs in the third, five runs in the fifth, three more in the sixth and another in the seventh for the victory. Liberty only scored in the fifth and sixth innings.
Lions’ ace Devin Daniels kept the Liberty bats quiet. Although he allowed three runs, he had an 8-0 lead at the time. Daniels struck out four and allowed just four hits.
Liberty managed just six hits and only one extra base hit — a double from David Williams.
Kerman battered Liberty aces Quaid Copher and Gage Arter for 11 combined runs. Copher allowed three runs over three innings while Arter allowed eight runs on 10 hits in his three innings of work.
Kerman struck for the first three runs of the game by stringing three straight hits together for the lead in the third.
The Lions added five more runs in the fifth on six hits. The key to all three multiple run innings was the Kerman No. 9 batter, who reached base all three innings and scored a run in each inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Bradley Moon singled to center. Jakson Bucher singled up the middle. Kerman caught Moon off of second base and in a rundown. However, Moon got back to second. Kerman tried to get Bucher, who took a wide turn at first, and threw the ball away to put runners at first and third.
Gage Arter grounded out to short, but Moon came in to score. David Williams followed with a line drive down the left field line. As he rounded second, Kerman missed its cutoff man and Williams stumbled his way to third. Copher flew out to center and Williams scored to cut the lead to 8-3.
The Lions banged out four more hits in the sixth for three runs. Three times, Kerman drew the Liberty infield in and all three times, Kerman got the key hit.
“That’s the chances you have to take,” Cosma said. “They were able to respond and put the ball in play and find a hole. When things are going good, the ball is going to have eyes. That was the difference today.”
Liberty added another run in the sixth. With one out, Colton Cardoza lifted a fly ball to left field that fell between the Lions’ shortstop and left fielder. Cardoza went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a wild throw to first off an infield single from Moon for the 12-4 final.