By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY April 20, 2004 For the Liberty Indians, Fridays non-league baseball game against the visiting Chapel Field Lions was a game of firsts.
It was the Indians first game of the new baseball season, it was their first home game and it was their first win of the year.
For a team that finished with a 2-12 record in 2003, it wasnt a bad way to jump start the new season as the Indians came from behind in the bottom of the seventh inning to score a dramatic 10-9 victory.
In the top of the sixth, Chapel Fields Jake Miller walked and Abe Vennek followed with a single. Miller scored on a single by Peter Lopez to put the Lions in the drivers seat 9-6.
Facing what seemed like a certain loss, Liberty (1-0) rallied in the bottom of the seventh to send four batters all the way home for the one-run win.
Casey Pazzalia led off with a single. Josh England and Derek Blume then walked to load the bases. Connor Noetzel then drew a walk to score Pazzalia. The next batter, Jason Garritt, walked, which scored Blume.
A two-RBI single off the bat of Ryan Martin brought Noetzel and Garritt across home plate with the tying and winning runs, respectively.
I thought it was good game, Liberty Coach Jim OConnor said. We started out with three runs on the board and then Chapel Field put four runs on the board in the top of the second, but we wound up winning in the bottom of the seventh.
I told them in the bottom of the sixth that the seventh inning was going to determine our season, he added.
Josh England and Mike Kushetsky shared the pitching duties for Liberty. Chapel Fields Eric Lloyd started off and was relieved late in the game.
In the top of the first, Chapel Field (0-2) went scoreless.
In their turn at the plate, the Indians leaped out of the batters box to score three runs.
Noetzel led off with a single and Garritt was hit by a pitch.
Corey Pazzalia then banged a triple to score both Noetzel and Garritt. Two batters later, Pazzalia crossed the plate on a single by Mike Kushetsky.
In the top of the second, the Lions took a one-run lead by sending four players across the plate.
In the top of the fourth, the Lions surged to a four-run lead, 7-3. Justin Chariot reached on an error and scored on a single by Eric Lloyd.
Mike Lloyd singled. Chariot crossed the plate on a single by Matt Dunn.
In the bottom of the fourth, Liberty got one run back. Derek Blume reached compliments of an error. Noetzel walked. Garritt advanced the runners with a sacrifice. Corey Pazzalia brought Blume home with a single to end the inning.
At Chapel Fields turn at-bat in the fifth, Maury walked. An error and a passed ball and a sac fly by Eric Lloyd scored Maury.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Indians picked up a couple of runs. Noetzel and England got back-to-back singles. Blume knocked them home with a two-run double.
Looking back at the haunting spectre of last years 2-12 record, OConnor is optimistic about the new season. Six players Blume, England, Joe Fitspatrick, Garritt, Noetzel and Corey Pazzalia return from the Indians 2003 squad.
The team has really good attitude, and were hoping to improve, OConnor said. Im hoping were going to be a competitive team this year.