The Liberty baseball team was looking for some rare separation atop the Carroll County standings and it didn’t waste any time getting some at South Carroll on Wednesday.
The No. 13 Lions got a clutch two-out, two-run double from third baseman Anthony Zombro and off they went. They built an early six-run lead, scored in every inning and cruised to a 15-6 win over rival South Carroll in Carroll County play.
Liberty (11-3) improves to 8-1 for first place in Carroll County, while South Carroll (9-4) drops to 7-3 in league play. Century, which shared the county crown with Liberty last season, beat Westminster, 11-2, on Wednesday to go to 8-2 in league play.
After falling to Manchester Valley, 9-5, in the county opener on March 29, Liberty has rattled off eight straight league wins averaging more than 10 runs per game. Once again Wednesday, the Lions stuck with the offensive plan third-year coach Travis Inch has preached.
“I teach a lot of ‘early and often,’” he said. “We got off to slow starts a couple times early this season and the guys have bought into it now. We’ve been hitting the ball about as well as we can.”
Leading 3-0, the Lions turned one single, three walks and three South Carroll errors into a three-run third inning to build a 6-0 advantage.
After the Cavaliers pieced together four runs on five hits in the bottom of the third — Justin Abell’s run-scoring double was followed by Braden Green’s double that scored two more — the lead was suddenly down to two runs.
But the Lions’ bats stayed hot and reliever Dominic DiBlasi came in to pitch for starter Jack Davidson and provided four strong innings to get the win.
In the fourth inning, Joe Glass hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-4. The Lions added two runs in the fifth before DiBlasi cleared the bases with a three-run double in the sixth and pinch hitter Kevin Hyde hit a two-run home run over the center-field fence in the seventh.
“I think the big thing today, for sure, was getting a jump on them right away. We could tell that as long as we didn’t lose the game ourselves, it would be ours. I think that was huge,” DiBlasi said, who pitched three scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the seventh.
As for taking the mound in a suddenly tight game, DiBlasi proved up to the challenge.
“I was a little nervous when I went in with us only up by two. But in that first inning, I was able to hit my spots, so I knew it would be our game if I kept pitching like I was.”
The Lions pounded out 11 hits, drew five walks from South Carroll starter Brayden Stutzman and two relievers, stole five bases and took advantage of eight Cavalier errors. Glass and Quinn Petroski each scored four runs.
“They have great approaches at the plate. They can hit the ball very well and if they get a well-pitched game and sound defense, that’s what happens. It can get away from you,” said South Carroll coach Brian Zawacki. “We had a couple good innings, but when you’re up against those guys it’s tough. They’re well-coached, they have a great approach at the plate and put the ball in play.”
For South Carroll, leadoff batter Braden Green had the two-run double and later singled. Logan Miller went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.
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“It’s something we’ll all learn from, we’ll stay positive and it’s another game in the schedule and hats off to Liberty – they did a great job today,” Zawacki said.
Both teams return to league action at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Liberty will host Westminster at 4:30 and South Carroll will look to bounce back at home against Century.
On Monday, Liberty travels to Century in the teams’ second meeting of the regular season. The Lions claimed a 12-4 home win over the Knights on April 11.
L 2 1 3 1 2 3 3 – 15 11 2
SC 0 0 4 0 0 0 2 – 6 11 8
Davidson, DiBlasi (4) and Hodges, Blevins; Stutzman, Berndt (4), N. Strzelczyk
2B: L – Zombro, DiBlasi; SC – Green, Abell, Boore. HR: L -- Hyde