Colts claim 8-3 victory over Liberty

CLARKSBURG – Zach Howdershelt had his name mispronounced by the public address announcer throughout the week of the Class AA sectional baseball tournament. But after going the distance and shutting down the Liberty lineup Wednesday to stave off elimination for his Philip Barbour teammates, somebody will surely remember who he is.

Howdershelt scattered eight hits and struck out three to lead Philip Barbour to an 8-3 victory, forcing a winner-take-all game at 4:30 p.m. today at Liberty. The winner will move on to regional play the week of May 20.

“Zach’s our no-nonsense leader,” Philip Barbour coach Jonathon Carpenter said. “He’s not smiling until the game’s over.”

Philip Barbour, 13-15, erupted for five runs in the first two innings, four of those coming in the second. Bryant Martin drove home two runs with a double, and Doug Smith drove home another.

Liberty, however, rallied for three runs of its own in the bottom of the second as the Mountaineers got a walk and three straight hits to start the inning. But a base-running gaffe on a sacrifice fly resulted in a double play, thwarting a big inning for the Liberty.

“We had way too many flyballs,” Liberty coach Russ Nutt said. “But give (Philip Barbour) credit. They got base hits when they had kids in scoring position, and we flew out when we had kids in scoring position.”

Liberty starter Cody Huffman took the loss, surrendering five runs on five hits and a walk. Ty Wickline pitched the remaining five innings, scattering six hits the rest of the way.

“That lefty got us jumping (off-balance) at the ball,” Carpenter said. “He had us hitting just a lot of little things.”

Martin and Smith each had three hits to lead the Colts’ offensive attack, and both stroked a double. Martin drove in three runs, and Smith had two runs batted in.

Liberty, which fell to 10-18, was paced by Jaylen Bartley, who stroked three singles in as many at-bats.