Liberty attacks for 18 runs
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Matthew Prado cruises into second on his first inning RBI double during Tuesday’s 18-2 rout of Mendota.
The Liberty Hawks baseball team’s offense started rolling in the first inning and didn’t let up in an 18-2, five inning victory over the Mendota Aztecs in its final game before starting North Sequoia League play.
“We attacked the fastball and looked to do damage all day,” Liberty head coach Derick Kuhn said. “We had solid approaches and the bats came alive, which is what we’ve been waiting for. That was what we needed before our league opener on Thursday.”
The Hawks banged out 18 hits, including three doubles and a triple in the victory. Six Liberty batters had multi-hit games, led by lead-off hitter Quaid Copher, who was 4-for-4 with three runs scored and hit a double.
Max Vestal drove in four runs, scored four runs and hit a triple. McGuire Smith had three hits and scored three runs.
“It was a dress rehearsal,” Kuhn said. “We probably had one of the toughest pre-league schedules in the valley playing schools from the CMAC and TRAC and Fresno. We put ourselves in the situation where we wanted to be tested in the preseason.
Mendota was our, ‘Let’s get back to what we do and get back to the basics to get ready for league’ game.”
The Hawks had two encouraging games before Thursday’s league opener against Yosemite-Oahkurst. On Saturday, the Hawks lost to the Madera South Stallions, 8-6, but it was an improvement from an 8-1 loss in the season opener.
“The last two times we played Madera South, we were right with them,” Kuhn said. “We had four innings that cost us. We’ve been right there with them. They are legit this year and we have proven we can play with them. We played with Clovis High. We competed with Clovis West for four innings. We’re right there. We just have to avoid that one big inning that kills us when we’re playing big competition.”
Copher also tossed four innings of two-hit ball. He allowed two unearned runs, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter.
“Quaid is our leader,” Kuhn said. “He’s our sparkplug. He competes. I believe he’s one of the best lead-off hitters in the valley. He’s one of the best competitors. We’re going to lean on him to lead this young group this year.
“Looking to play a complete game is our goal. If we can play a complete game, there isn’t anybody that can beat us. If we’re taking care of the baseball and doing our thing, we’re a really tough team to beat.”
The Hawks sent 11 batters to the plate in the first and their first five batters reached base. Copher started with a double and Smith singled him home. Nathen Medina singled and Jakson Bucher singled home Smith. Vestal singled home Medina and Bucher.
Vestal stole second, went to third on an error and scored on Matthew Prado’s two-out double. Hudson Groh singled home Prado for a 6-0 lead.
Liberty added two more runs in the second when Vestal tripled home Bucher and scored on a Dylan Whiteman sacrifice fly.
The Hawks added three more runs in the third on five hits. Smith and Whiteman each had RBI singles in the inning.
Liberty added five more runs in the bottom of the fourth on four hits for the 18-2 final.