By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY April 29, 2003 The Liberty Indians blew a 6-0 lead Thursday as the visiting Monticello Panthers staged a six-run rally in the sixth inning and scored once in the final frame to defeat Liberty, 7-6, on a windswept field in a non-league baseball game.
For the first three innings, however, things were looking pretty good for Liberty as the team grabbed a 4-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Indians added two more runs to what was shaping up as a shutout. Matt Burns singled and Ashton Richards doubled to put runners on second and third. Both Burns and Richards scored on an error later in the inning and Liberty was seemingly in command with 6-0 lead.
Monticello Coach John Spear then called a timeout to turn the cold air blue as he royally chewed out his team.
Spears strategy apparently worked wonders, as Monticello (2-4) charged back in the sixth inning to tie it up 6-6.
Kyle Brasington led off the inning with a single. Dave Soderblom then smashed a two-run homer to make it a 6-2 ballgame. Clean-up hitter Orlando Fuentes reached on a base hit and Mudassar Abbas walked. After Reed Barnofsky flew out to right field for the first out of the frame, Dan Catalano reached on an error, and Fuentes scored. Pinch hitter Gerry Donohue struck out looking and Justin Gray walked.
Then a couple of clutch hits by Matt Russo and Brasington set the stage for a 6-6 tie as Brasington evened it up with an RBI single.
In the seventh, Abbas singled on a full count. Barnofsky bunted to reach an unguarded bag at first, and Abbas siezed the moment to leg it to third.
Spear signaled for a squeeze, but the batter missed the sign and struck out. Catalano hit a grounder to third, but the ball went out of play and Abbas scored to give Monticello a 7-6 come-from-behind win as Liberty could not score in the bottom of the seventh.
Abbas picked up the win on the mound for the Panthers. Liberty starting pitcher Josh England was relieved late in the game by Richards.
It was a little shakey, said Abbas, a 17-year-old senior. We started out making a lot of errors, but then we came back and got some runs in the late innings to get the win.
Asked how its going so far this season, Abbas replied, We started out rough with back-to-back losses, but now weve got a couple of wins.
I thought wed come out with a little more enthusiam after the win over Tri-Valley, said Spear, refering to the Panthers 6-4 victory over the Bears on Wednesday. But we were very lethargic. We didnt play well for five and a half innings we went one, two, three in the bottom of the fifth but we came back in the sixth.
Liberty Coach Jim OConnor had a tough time taking the loss, but took time to give credit to Monticello.
We blew a six-run lead, and they came back all the way to beat us, he said. We flat out choked today.
The Indians played well in the first few innings, however.
In the first inning, Richards got to first on a base hit. Derek Blume singled and Jason Garritt reached on a fielders choice. A poke by Joe Colacurcio scored a couple of runs. Corey Pazzalia singled and England got a base hit. Dan Ratner reached on an error at the mound, and the third run of the frame crossed the plate.
Liberty (1-6) made it a 4-0 ballgame in the third inning. Garritt smashed a triple into the outfield and later scored on a sacrifice bunt by Pazzalia.