PHILIPPI - Chris Mayle executed a textbook suicide squeeze bunt to bring home one run in the third inning and then coaxed the pitcher into a balk to score another, allowing Liberty to break open a scoreless game Monday and cruise to a 4-2 Big 10 Conference win over Philip Barbour.
Dylan Gain walked to start the fateful inning and then swiped second. After a strikeout of the next batter, elbow problems forced Philip Barbour pitcher Tyler Schiefelbein to leave the mound. Liberty's Bryan Van Norman greeted reliever Saige Cline with a single, and Van Norman then stole second to set up Mayle's squeeze bunt. As Gain was streaking plateward, Mayle pushed the bunt down the first base line and was able to squeeze himself by the fielders to arrive safely at first.
"We have not been great at playing station-to-station baseball," Liberty baseball coach Russ Nutt said, adding he was pleased with the aggression his team showed on the base paths with its six stolen bases.
The Inter-Mountain photo by John Wickline
Philip Barbour shortstop Al Johnson (11) slaps the tag on a sliding Jaylen Bartley for the out in the third inning of Monday’s game against Liberty.
"We are starting to get our fundamentals down."
That aggression led to a balk, bringing home Van Norman. Jonathan Kreyenbuhl lofted a fly ball to center field to drive in Mayle.
"Tyler leaving kind of changed the tide of the game," lamented Philip Barbour coach Jonathon Carpenter. "When it starts snowballing, we have trouble stopping it. We'll figure it out."
Liberty, 4-12, added another run in the fourth when Josh Davis led off with a single and came around to score on Gain's groundball. Philip Barbour, 3-11, rallied back with two runs in the fourth. Chance Price reached on an error, later scoring on Doug Smith's single into right field. Smith scored on Quentin Mouser's sacrifice fly into left field.
Liberty starter Cody Huffman scattered six hits in a complete-game victory. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three. He also had two hits to aid his cause.
"We never really settled in at the plate," Carpenter said. "We are still lacking that clutch hit." Tyler Schiefelbein was tagged with the loss, allowing just one run and one hit in two-plus innings of work.
Smith stroked three singles in three trips to the plate to lead Philip Barbour. Liberty also received two hits each from Van Norman and Logan Robey. The Colts host Robert C. Byrd at 7 p.m. today.