Liberty senior Jon Hill was in the middle of pitching a gem at Westminster yesterday afternoon, patiently waiting for some help.
It finally came in the top of the sixth when senior catcher Shaun Rausch dumped a base-loaded, two-run single to right.
Hill, who allowed one hit while striking out 14, took care of the rest as the No. 12 Lions went on to defeat No. 9 Westminster, 4-1.
The hard-throwing, right-hander continually kept the Owls off-balance, mixing an occasional curve and changeup with a fastball that found the outside corner.
"I was able to stay ahead of the hitters today," Hill said. "The last game, I gave up a lot of walks. I was staying closed too long, so over Easter break I worked on opening up a little more on my stride. It helped my curveball and change."
It was Hill's heat that gave the Owls the most problems. Their No. 3 and No. 4 hitters -- senior catcher Brian Tozer and junior first baseman Matt Bowers -- went a combined 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts.
"[Hill] just threw a real good ballgame," said Westminster co-coach Guy Stull. "We hadn't seen anyone throw that hard so far this season."
It was the Owls (3-1) who scratched across the game's first run with two outs in the bottom of the second. Tom Perry's windy bloop to short right bounced off the glove of Lions second baseman Jon Felmey, scoring Mike Taylor.
The Lions (4-1) got that run back in the fourth and then took their first lead in the sixth.
Felmey walked with one out and Tom Stevens followed with a sharp single up the middle that went off the glove of Billy Mays in center to put runners on second and third. After Ryan Renehan was intentionally walked to load the bases, Rausch hit Bryan Davidson's outside fastball to right field to score two.
"The bases were loaded and we needed a run. I was looking for a clutch hit," Rausch said.
Liberty coach Steve Insley said it wasn't the first time Rausch has come up with a key hit.
"We've just played five games so far and he's already had three or four big hits," Insley said.
Matt Sargent gave the Lions the 4-1 lead with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Renehan. It was more than enough for Hill, who seemed to get stronger as the game went on. He struck out the first two Owls in the seventh before getting Hank Adams to ground out to end the game.
"He was on," said Insley. "We've been looking for good things from him and for him to come out and pitch a game like this so early is fantastic."
Davidson gave up just three hits in six innings for the Owls, who also got great defensive play from third baseman Chris Mathias and Adams at short.
Pub Date: 4/03/97