Liberty Center nips Vikings late, 9-8

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

LIBERTY CENTER – Liberty Center and Evergreen went back and forth for seven innings but missed opportunities were the key as Evergreen missed out on a couple of scoring chances and LC made the most of one late using Alex Righi’s soft two-out single in the bottom of the fifth to take a 9-8 victory in ACME play Tuesday.

Evergreen loaded the bases in the top of the first on pair of walks and Josh Dowling’s single, but Tiger starter Manny Keller escaped when John Ruth’s line drive that was caught then dropped, turned into a wacky fielders’ choice and Keller got a strikeout to end the inning.

LC scored in the bottom of the frame as Conner Sonnenberg walked against Viking starter Dave Moore and scored when Jarrett Krugh’s line drive got past a diving John Ruth in center for a run scoring double.

Evergreen took a 2-1 lead in the third.

Mason Henricks drew a walk, then scored when Dowling delivered a line drive single to left-center to knot the game at 1-1. After a walk put runners at first and second, Moore’s single to right marked Dowling to put the Vikes on top.

LC came right back in the bottom of the inning.

Lucas Frankforther started the inning with a single, then after a walk, Sonnenberg, Austin Like and Krugh each delivered run-producing hits to end the night for Moore and put the Tigers up 5-2.

Bryce Eisel relieved and got out of the inning, giving up a run scoring ground out to Max Weaver.

Down 6-2, Evergreen came up with a big inning of their own to again re-take a slim one-run lead.

Sam Lubinski drove a double to deep left and a walk put Vikings at first and second with no one out to start the fourth.

After a flyout, Henricks’ base hit scored Lubinski, and after Zack Lumbrezer drew a walk, Jack Krispin did the same with the bases jacked to force in another run.

Dowling’s third hit of the game and a single by Ruth brought home two more to give Evergreen a 7-6 lead.

It didn’t take long for the Tigers to reclaim a one run lead as three Viking errors led to two runs in the bottom of the fourth to give LC a slim 8-7 advantage.

The Vikings made the best of the alternating gift exchange as Adam Baumgartner singled to start the fifth and came around to score on a Tiger error to tie the game, 8-8.

LC scored what proved to be the game winner in the last half of the fifth when Weaver singled, moved around to third on a pair of ground balls, and scored when Righi’s soft liner dropped just past the skin of the infield.

Evergreen had a chance to retaliate in the sixth when Dowling led off with his fourth single of the night and Ruth followed with a bunt hit to put runners on first and second.

However, the Vikings couldn’t get the bunt down, and after a couple bad at-bat strikeouts, Lubinski’s drive to left-cetner was hauled in to end the threat.

The Vikes mounted one more threat in the seventh when Henricks walked and Lumbrezer’s bad hop hit down the first base line put runners at second and third with two-out. But, Krispin’s hard ground ball didn’t find a hole ending the game.

Eisel took a loss on the mound while Gabe Hinton of Liberty Center got the win in relief.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor

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