The Liberty baseball team took advantage of one of the warmest days this spring to heat up at the plate.
The Lions scored nine times in the first inning and compiled 16 hits en route to a 14-2 victory in five innings over visiting Frederick in Eldersburg yesterday.
Eight of the nine batters in the Liberty lineup finished with at least one hit, and senior right-hander Jesse Stank allowed three hits in pitching a complete game.
The Lions, who improved to 13-2, remain a half game ahead of Urbana in the race for the Central Maryland Conference championship with a 10-2 conference mark.
Yesterday's win was the third straight in which Liberty scored at least 10 runs, but junior Alex Moore said the team's hitters were not satisfied with the previous two victories.
"We're finally waking up our bats," said Moore, who went 2-for-4 and drove in four runs. "It feels good to see that we're hitting the ball."
Lions coach Erik Barnes said the squad has been more lively since falling, 3-2, last week to Urbana, a loss that ended Liberty's eight-game winning streak.
"Before the Urbana game, we had three or four games without an extra-base hit," he said. "Our pitching and defense has kept us afloat, and we got that again today. But we also got the hitting."
The Lions didn't waste much time against the Cadets (7-6, 6-6 in conference) and senior right-hander Marc Steiner, who couldn't escape the first inning. Junior Jim Miller led off with a single, and after Moore struck out, sophomore Jon Bruce (3-for-3 with an RBI) drew a walk.
Senior Perry Sartain (2-for-3 with three RBIs) then drove a single to center, where Frederick center fielder Malcolm Smith mishandled the ball to allow Miller and Bruce to score for a 2-0 Liberty lead.
Senior Rick Hogg lined another single to center to score Sartain, and after junior Kevin Magaw drew a walk, senior Ben Price (2-for-2) hit another single to center to drive in Hogg.
A walk to Stank loaded the bases for senior Matt Cavey, who drilled a single to left field to score Magaw and Price. After Miller's RBI double to right, Steiner was bounced in favor of junior left-hander Mark Maydak, who promptly gave up two more runs on a Moore single to left.
The Cadets scored two runs in the top of the third inning, but Liberty sealed the win by hammering Maydak and junior right-hander Brent Jewett for five more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Frederick coach Phil Rhodes could do nothing but marvel at the Lions' work at the plate.
"Those guys came out and stuck it to us with their bats," he said. "They don't possess those home run hitters, but they have quality hitters how can put a bunch of runs together. ... That's why they're on top of our conference."
Urbana 2, No. 15 Westminster 0: Sophomore pitcher Nichol Moeller allowed just five hits and struck out four in Frederick, but her teammates couldn't produce at the plate as the visiting Owls slipped a game behind Thomas Johnson in the race for the CMC championship.
The Lancers earned all their runs in the first inning and junior pitcher Stephanie Lovett held Westminster (10-4, 9-3 in conference) to just four hits.
No. 13 North Carroll 7, Linganore 1: Junior right-hander Angie Springer struck out seven and gave up five hits to help the visiting Panthers win in Frederick.
Senior first baseman Candice Jeffery went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and senior designated hitter Carrie Blout also went 2-for-3 and scored a run to help North Carroll to improve to 12-4, 8-4 in the conference.