Hawks’ teams advance in playoffs
Despite getting favorable seeds, both the Liberty Hawks’ baseball and softball team had to endure a little bit of tension before prevailing in the first round CIF Central Section playoffs this week.
The Hawks’ baseball team, seeded No. 1 in Div. IV, held off a furious seventh inning rally for a 12-10 victory over No. 16 Dinuba on Tuesday.
Then, on Wednesday, the softball team got a walk-off double by Paige Chapman to give the second-seeded Hawks a 3-2 victory over No. 15 Mission Oak-Tulare.
With the win, the baseball team hosted No. 9 Atascadero on Thursday in the quarterfinals. The softball team earned a home date with No. 7 Bullard-Fresno on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
The Hawks scored runs in the first six inning of Tuesday’s win. They looked to take control by scoring 10 runs in the first three innings and held a 10-2 lead.
However, Dinuba scored four runs in the fourth and added four runs in the top of the seventh before Hudson Groh closed out the game with the win.
The Hawks banged out 14 hits with nine extra base hits, led by Jakson Bucher and Max Vestal who each had two doubles and a triple.
Nate Medina drove in four runs, Xavier Gordon had two hits, Dylan Whiteman, the winning pitcher, and Groh hit doubles.
Whiteman picked up the win by throwing the first three innings. He allowed three runs, struck out four, but walked five.
Liberty got on board in the bottom of the first inning. McGuire Smith led off with a single and scored on Bucher’s double. Vestal and Medina each hit doubles to drive in a run. Medina came home on a Gordon single for the early 3-0 lead.
After Dinuba scored a run in the top of the second, the Hawks were at it again in the bottom of the inning. No. 9 batter Danny Sandante was hit by a pitch and scored two batters later on Bucher’s opposite-field triple.
Vestal then split the right-centerfield gap for another triple to drive in Vestal. Medina singled to left to drive in Bucher for a 6-1 lead.
Dinuba added another run in the top of the third, but the Hawks battled back with four more runs. Gordon started the rally by getting hit by a pitch. He was forced at second by Whiteman. However, Groh followed with an opposite-field double to drive in Whiteman.
After a strikeout, Smith was hit by a pitch. Bucher doubled home Groh with pinch-runner Jared Nolte taking third. Nolte later scored on a passed ball. Vestal doubled home Bucher for a 10-2 lead after three innings.
Dinuba put four runs on the board on the backs of two singles, two walks and a triple to cut the lead to four.
Liberty added a run in the bottom of the fourth on a walk to Mathew Prado. He was balked to second and scored on a Sandante single.
In the fifth, Bucher led off with another double and scored on an error for a 12-6 lead.
Dinuba’s first four batters reached base to open the seventh and all four scored. A single, followed by a walk, a double, another walk, a hit batter and a two-run single tightened things up.
Groh came in and got a strikeout and a pair of groundouts to end the inning.
Despite a two-hitter thrown by pitcher Karsyn Bauer, the Hawks’ softball team needed a rally in the sixth and seventh innings for a 3-2 first round win over No. 15 mission Oak.
Liberty banged out nine hits in the game, getting two from Maci Whaley and Ari Aguayo. However, it was a seventh inning double by Chapman that proved to be the difference.
Despite Bauer’s two hitter, the Hawks committed four errors that allowed both Mission Oak runs to score.
Mission Oak scored a run in the first inning off an error to the lead-off batter and a single two batters later.
Liberty answered with an unearned run of its own. Rylee Bocchini hit a ball to right field that was dropped for an error. Bocchini raced around the bases to score the game-tying run.
Mission Oak took the lead with an unearned run in the fifth. A lead-off single and an error drove in the go-ahead run.
Bauer closed the game by retiring the final nine batters in a row.
Whaley started the game-tying rally in the sixth with a lead-off single. Bauer sacrificed Whaley to second. Rylee Workman drew a walk. Sayler Steiner came through with a double to deep center field to drive in Whaley with the game-tying run.
Aguayo started the winning rally with a lead-off single in the seventh. After she stole second, Chapman hit a 2-2 pitch into a gap to score Aguayo to walk off with a 3-2 victory.