Liberty's Perry Sartain made himself comfortable at the plate and on the mound.
The senior center fielder went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and then ended a final threat yesterday with the tying run batting in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the No.10 Lions out-slug host North Carroll, 14-11, in Hampstead.
If yesterday's contest was a preview of Friday's Class3A West regional rematch between these two teams, be prepared for a lots of hitting and lots of relieving.
Liberty battered three Panthers pitchers for 14hits, while North Carroll thumped two Lions hurlers for 11 hits.
Sartain replaced senior Jesse Stank, who gave up four runs in the last inning and left with runners on first and third with two outs.
With Panthers senior Jeff Peltzer representing the tying run in the batter's box, Sartain got Peltzer to hit a routine groundout to seal Liberty's fifth straight win.
Sartain was just as effective with the bat, drilling two doubles and scoring three times.
"They threw me fastballs, and they threw them high," Sartain said of the three North Carroll pitchers he faced. "Those are the kind I like."
Lions coach Erik Barnes, who watched his squad clinch at least a share of the Central Maryland Conference championship with a 12-2conference record (15-2overall), didn't appear too surprised by Sartain's numbers.
"That's why he bats in the four spot," said Barnes, who has his eyes on Urbana, which is a 1/2 -game behind Liberty and plays South Carroll today. "He's always been a solid at-bat with extremely quick hands."
An RBI single by junior Andy Lindner, a throwing error, and an RBI bloop double by junior Jeff Yingling gave North Carroll a 5-3 lead after the third inning. But the Lions scored seven runs, capped by three singles, a double and a passed ball - all with two outs - to take a 10-5 lead in the fourth inning.
Momentum appeared to swing back in the Panthers' favor in the bottom half of the fourth. After junior Dave Doarnberger reached first on an error and junior Chris Sanders was hit by a pitch from Stank, senior Mark Campbell drilled a grounder to shortstop Kevin Magaw, who pitched the ball to senior Matt Cavey for the forceout at second.
But Cavey's throw to first sailed over the fence, and Doarnberger walked home. But an umpire said that Sanders interfered with Cavey's throw and ruled Campbell out at first and Doarnberger back to third base.
However, North Carroll coach Denny Snyder, whose team (8-11, 6-8 in conference) dropped its third game of the season against Liberty, said the controversial call was not the difference in the game.
"Good teams make breaks," Snyder said. "They did everything fundamentally sound, and when you play fundamentally sound baseball, things go your way."