Liberty County starts season off with plenty of solid pitching, defense and timely hitting

March 12, 2012

from Liberty County High School

The 2012 Liberty County High School baseball team used solid pitching, defense, and some timely hitting to start their season 4 – 1 – 1.

Their first game against the Marianna Bulldogs was called after six innings of play due to fog. “We stood at home plate and we could barely see the outfielders it was so bad,” said LCHS Coach Donnie Coxwell. “The game was suspended, meaning that when we travel to Marianna to play we will finish the first one before we start the second one.” The game was tied 2 – 2 after six innings. The Bulldogs spotted the visiting Bulldogs two runs in the first inning.

Senior Trey Morris started on the mound for the Dawgs. “Trey did a good job for us. He got in some trouble in the first inning and gave up two runs but really settled down and didn’t allow a baserunner past first base for the next three innings,” said Coxwell. The homestanding Bulldogs scored their two runs in the fourth inning. Sophomore Hunter Jacobs led off the inning with a single, Senior Daniel Deason then reached base while attempting a sacrifice bunt. Junior David Black reached on an error and with two outs Junior Chuck Morris drove in Deason and Black with a single to right field. The Dawgs did not threaten the next two innings. After Trey reached his pitch count after the fourth inning Junior JoJo Durden went to the mound. Durden struck out the next six batters. “This was JoJo’s first game on the mound and he pitched great. He had total command of all his pitches,” the coach noted.

After two consecutive rain outs the Dawgs hosted the RF Munroe Bobcats. The Dawgs won a close game 4 – 3 in eight innings. Senior Trey Morris started on the mound going 3 innings giving up only one earned run. Junior Caleb Barrentine followed Morris on the mound with two runners on and no outs and allowed only one run to score. “Caleb came up huge for us tonight. He got a ground ball, picked off a baserunner, and struck out the last batter of the inning to get us out of a jam,” Coxwell said. JoJo Durden came in the game for the seventh inning and struck out the side.

Liberty’s Caleb Barrentine throws a runner out at first.

Trailing 3 – 1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Dawgs scored two runs to force extra innings. Junior Hayden Swier led off the inning with a single after a strike out. Senior Trey Johnson pinch hit for catcher Chase Taylor. Hayden and Trey both scored on wild pitches by the Bobcat pitcher, tying the game 3 – 3. Durden pitched a perfect eighth inning.

In the bottom half of the eighth inning Senior Ethan Foran led off the inning with a single, David Black walked, Hayden Swier singled. After a couple of fielder choices and with the bases loaded, Sophomore Hunter Jacobs drove in the winning run with a single. “This was a big win for us because they are a quality team and because of the way we came from behind to get the win,” said Coxwell. “We had our chances early to blow the game open. We had the bases loaded four times and did not score. But we hung in there and got it done in the eighth inning.”

The Dawgs’ first district game of the year was against Franklin County. Liberty County won the game 9 – 2, led on the mound by Junior David Black. Black pitched a complete game striking out seven, walking two, and giving up 1 earned run. The Dawgs used a seven run second inning to blow the game open and give Black more than enough runs to earn the win. Offensively the Dawgs were led by Sophomore Hunter Jacobs who had two hits in the win.

The Bulldogs first road game of the year was against a very good Dean Bozeman team. “Bozeman has a strong team that historically is always in hunt for the playoffs.” This game turned into a pitchers’ duel. For Liberty County, Junior JoJo Durden was making his first start of the year. He struck out 9, walked 2, and gave up 3 runs, only two of those earned. Junior Caleb Barrentine came in relief and only gave up 1 hit.

Tiger Hunter Jordan pitches to Liberty during the Friday night game.

Offensively the game started off well with Sophomore Hunter Jacobs leading with a single. The Dawgs only managed 3 more hits the rest of the game and struck out 13 times. They scored their 2 runs in the sixth highlighted by an RBI single by Senior Ethan Foran. “We had our chances to score but we did not take advantage of those chances. They took advantage of theirs and that was the difference in the game,” noted Coxwell.

The Dawgs then traveled to Chipola College to take on the Bainbridge, GA Bearcats at Chipola Field. “We want to thank Coach Jeff Johnson for allowing us to use his field for this game. It is a treat for our players to get to play on a college field in front of college coaches,” Coxwell said.

In another close game, the Dawgs scored in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 4 – 3 win. Junior Caleb Barrentine started the game on the mound for the Dawgs. Caleb went six innings striking out 4, walking 1 and allowing only 3 runs. “In his first start of the year Caleb did an outstanding job. He threw strikes and got ground balls and made quality pitches when our defense made a couple of errors behind him,” the coach said. The Dawgs scored two runs in the second inning. Junior Hayden Swier reached on an error, followed by a David Black single. A double steal put runners on second and third. A wild pitch scored Swier and Black scored on a sacrifice fly by Junior Chuck Morris. The Dawgs scored again in the sixth to tie the score. In the top of the seventh, Senior Trey Morris was called on to keep the score tied. He did so with a perfect seventh inning, throwing only eight pitches to retire the side. The bottom of the seventh, with the score tied and needing a run to win, Jacobs grounded out to start the inning. Senior Daniel Deason reached base with walk followed by an infield hit by Senior Brenton Bailey. After a strike out with two out Junior Hayden Swier singled to score Deason with the winning run. “This was a big win for us,” said Coxwell. “They have beaten us the last two years coming from behind last year to beat us in the seventh.”

Friday, the Bulldogs hosted the Blountstown Tigers for another big district game. Blountstown came in with a 2 – 1 district record. The Bulldogs dominated the game and won by the score of 7 – 0. Junior David Black took to the hill for the Dawgs and threw a complete game, striking out 10, walking none. “David may have thrown his best game ever tonight,” the coach said. “He threw strikes all night long. He only had two three ball counts the whole night.”

The Bulldogs had their best night at the plate also, pounding out 10 hits against Tiger pitchers. The Bulldogs were led by Juniors David Black, Hayden Swier, and Chuck Morris who all had two hits apiece. Seniors Brenton Bailey, Daniel Deason, and Ethan Foran all added hits of their own with Ethan Foran adding two RBI. “This was the biggest win on the season for us so far. It was against our rival and good team and it was another win for us in the district,” Coxwell said.

“Right now we are doing what it takes to win games. We are throwing lots of strikes and not walking many people and we are playing good defense,” he said. “Offensively we have some work to do to get better at the plate and hopefully score more runs.”

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