By Lori Brown
LIBERTY The Liberty Indians earned their first win of the baseball season on Thursday by defeating the visiting Livingston Manor Wildcats, 9-7, in a non-league game.
Both teams had a chance to score the game’s first run in their respective at-bats in the first inning. But the Wildcats left the bases loaded in the top of the first.
Liberty’s Ben Grisafe lead off the bottom of the first with a single and later advanced to third base. But he was stranded there.
With two outs and bases loaded in the top of the second, Manor’s Mike Mills found a gap in left center field, hitting a double to bring home teammates Robert Johaneman, Ken Fisk and Adam Hendrix.
But the Wildcats’ 3-0 lead didn’t last long.
In the bottom of the second, Joe Franke singled and scored on a passed ball later in the frame to put Liberty on the board.
Conor Siegel had a sacrifice bunt to bring home Andrew Cross and Grisafe slammed a double to left field to bring home Will McGuire with the tying run.
In the third inning, the Indians played good defense and pitcher Grisafe recorded the third out with a strikeout.
Manor (6-6) played great defense as well in the bottom of third as pitcher Adam Hendrix also recorded the final out with a strikeout.
The Wildcats had a great fourth inning, scoring four times to take a 7-3 advantage.
Andrew Cummings hit the ball into shallow right field, bringing home Johaneman.
Liberty called a timeout and Andrew Cross took over on the mound for Grisafe. With still no outs in the inning, Ken Fisk singled to left field to allow Cummings to cross home plate. Fisk scored when Mills slammed a double to left field.
Brandon Smith continued the momentum for the Wildcats with a line drive to deep left field, which allowed Mills to score.
But the Indians got the next two batters out to prevent any more runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Manor had a 1-2-3 inning to retain the lead as Hendrix recorded another strikeout.
After holding the Wildcats scoreless in the top of the fifth, Liberty (1-8) recorded six runs to take the lead for the first time in the game.
With the bases loaded, Cross and Forrest Kirsch were each walked, bringing home Jesse Hufnagel and Anthony Covington.
Hendrix recorded the second out with a strikeout.
With bases still loaded, McGuire blasted a triple to left field, bringing home teammates Franke, Cross and Kirsch to give the Indians an 8-7 lead.
McGuire then scored on a passed ball to give his team a 9-7 advantage.
Hendrix started the sixth inning off with a single to left field. Liberty changed pitchers again as McGuire relieved Cross.
Manor had two players in scoring position to potentially tie the game, but McGuire got a strikeout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Wildcats prevented Liberty from increasing its lead.
Brad Dreher started off the seventh inning with a single. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Liberty played stellar defense for the rest of the frame.
After McGuire registered a strikeout, catcher Jesse Hufnagel threw down to first base to pick off Dreher for the second out of the inning. Kirsch, the third baseman, ended the game by catching a pop fly.
“We had one bad inning and we needed to play all seven innings,” Manor Coach Jeff Loeffler said. “Pitcher Adam Hendrix hasn’t pitched a whole game, but worked through it today.”
Hendrix went 3 for 4 to pace the Manor offense. Mills went 2 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs.
“This is our first win and we kind of needed that,” Liberty Coach John Wilhelm said. “We make too many mistakes, but we have been in every game.
“We feel we are better than that,” added Wilhelm, referring to the team’s record so far this season. “This win will give us a little momentum. Pitcher Ben Grisafe kept us in the game.
“Hitting has been our weak spot,” Wilhelm continued. “Coming into the season, we wanted to hit better this year, so this game was a good sign.”
Grisafe went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Cross reached base all four times he went up to bat with a double, two walks and an RBI single.