By Ted Waddell
Editors Note: This is the latest in our series of wrap-up stories about the countys high school baseball teams and how they fared during the 2005 season. Please see more such stories in upcoming issues.
LIBERTY June 14, 2005 The Liberty Indians ended the 2005 season with an overall record of 7-18 and 3-6 in OCIAA Division IV competition.
At the beginning of the season, it seemed like we had a lot of potential, said Coach Jim OConnor, now in his ninth year at the helm.
OConnor based that early season evaluation on how his team fared against Cornwall, whom he called a pretty great baseball establishment. Although Liberty lost all three games of the series by scores of 6-4, 12-9 and 7-0 OConnor was encouraged by how the Indians played against a powerhouse.
(Incidentally, Cornwall won the Section IX Class A title and advanced to the state Class A championship game.)
How about the rest of the season?
We showed a lot of promise, and at times we played well, yet at other times we couldnt put the pieces together to win games, OConnor commented.
The veteran coach noted that the Indians best game this spring was their 10-9 comeback victory at home over James I. ONeill. Liberty scored all of its runs in the final three innings to record the one-run victory.
After that game, I didnt think we were going to lose again, said OConnor. They turned around a game we could have lost 20 to nothing.
The worst of 2005?
A couple of divisional games against Sullivan West, ONeill and Burke where we could have been contenders
we just didnt get it done in the field to get the extra wins, OConnor said.
He credited the clutch hitting of several batters, including Mike Kushetsky, Connor Noetzel, Shane Noetzel, Jason Garritt and Casey Pazzalia, with helping the team this season.
Garritt led the team with a .440 batting average and OConnor noted that he was pound for pound, one of the best athletes Ive ever coached.
Peter Panagakos wasnt an everyday starter, but ended up earning a starting role on the team, OConnor added.
Panagakos finished the season with the Indians second highest batting average.
OConnor praised the pitching performances of Corey Van Keuren, who hurled a one-hitter against Goshen, a three-hitter against ONeill and a six-hitter against John S. Burke Catholic High School only to get tagged with the loss in each of those contests.
He kept us in a lot of games, but we didnt manufacture anything around him to win, OConnor stated.
A coach isnt a coach without a good statistician and this spring Liberty senior basketball player Jared Levine kept numerical tabs on the Indians.
He really helped me out
hes a heck of a nice kid, OConnor said.
Looking ahead to 2006, OConnor said, The high school baseball season is over in the bat of an eye
we have a lot of talented juniors coming back next year.