MANCHESTER — Liberty and Manchester Valley put together the kind of baseball game typically seen in May, when pitchers — and temperatures — are quite warm.
It’s a good bet not many expected what took place Tuesday, when the Mavericks and Lions engaged in a duel despite the calendar showing early April and conditions making it feel more like playoff football. Kyle Scott and Jack Merchak didn’t seem to mind, though.
Man Valley’s Scott and Liberty’s Merchak were on point, but the Mavericks junior proved a little bit better in leading his team to a 3-1 victory.
Scott twirled a gem with 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball and struck out 10. He reached 100 pitches in the seventh before coach Shawn Hampt relieved him with Garrett Vonella, who got the final out with the tying run at the plate.
The Mavs improved to 3-2, 2-1 in the Carroll County Athletic League, and celebrated their second consecutive strong outing from a starter. On Monday, junior Ty Morris went 6 2/3 in MV’s 6-2 win over Linganore.
“I felt good. In the warm-ups I was a little cold so I just had to warm up,” said Scott, who threw 67 of his 105 pitches for strikes. “I started off a little slow but then I finally got my command.”
Scott held Liberty (3-1, 2-1) hitless for the first three innings before Jack Bulakites led off the fourth with a double. The Lions had runners on first and third with one out, but Scott got out of the jam and preserved his team’s 3-0 lead.
Man Valley got two runs in the first on RBI singles from Tommy Murray and Brett DeWees, and added another in third on a groundout from Murray. Other than that, Merchak matched his pitching counterpart.
The Lions senior allowed only one hit after the first inning, and finished with four strikeouts.
Liberty avoided the shutout in the seventh when Ryan Thompson laced an RBI single into right field, and Hampt came to get Scott. Vonella faced Merchak with two outs and a runner on first, and sealed the win by getting Merchak to hit into a fielder’s choice.
“You tip your hat,” said Liberty coach Brian Tombs. “Their pitcher pitched well. I thought [Merchak] pitched well. … It’s baseball for you. The pitchers were great today, that’s the bottom line.”
Tombs was smiling afterward, despite his team having suffered its first loss of the spring. The Lions coach said he relishes being in these types of games.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I know we lost, but … I don’t like the 16-15 [games] at Winters Mill or Century because pop-ups are going out [for home runs]. This is baseball to me.”
Austin Massey singled and scored a run for the Lions. Meanwhile, Scott scored twice for the Mavericks and catcher Brett DeWees had two hits.
Tuesday’s game was crisp, in both pace of play and weather-wise. Gray skies gave way to a little drizzle in the middle innings, and a breeze made it feel like anything but spring. Scott and Merchak kept things moving, however, and the Mavericks posted back-to-back wins with another CCAL matchup upcoming.
Man Valley visits South Carroll (4-1, 3-1) on Thursday.
“That was fun to watch,” Hampt said, who checked the time and noted it hadn’t reached 6 p.m. yet. Not bad for a game that started at 4:30.
“All of our pitchers are throwing strikes,” Hampt said. “[Scott] had command, and he has had command since last year. He definitely had it dialed up today.”
Liberty 000 000 1 — 1 3 0
Man Valley 201 000 x — 3 4 2
L-Jack Merchak and Austin Massey; MV-Kyle Scott, Garrett Vonella (7), and Brett DeWees. 2B: MV-Matt Myers; L-Jack Bulakites. WP: Scott. LP: Merchak.