By Merle Bertrand, Sportswriter
Even though the eyes of most Liberty Hill fans are trained on the basketball court with both the Runnin’ Panthers and the Lady Panthers involved in post-season play, baseball has arrived in Panthers-land.
It was a successful arrival at that, as Coach Mike Kristan’s 2012 club started off the season with a 5-3 win over the Boerne Greyhounds Tuesday night (Feb. 21) in Liberty Hill.
Colby Schmidt went 2-3 at the plate, including a two-run home run, while Bryce Dallmeyer added a 2-RBI single and Kyle Hester worked a bases-loaded walk to help stake the Panthers to a 5-0 lead after two-innings.
Jake Ramirez, meanwhile, gave up one lone run in three-innings of work to pick up the win. Kyle Marshall pitched a scoreless fourth inning before Matt Parks worked the final three innings to pick up his first save of the season.
MARBLE FALLS TOURNAMENT
Dripping Springs 5, Liberty Hill 4
Liberty Hill’s first game in the Marble Falls Baseball Classic got off to a rocky start on Thursday (Feb. 23). The Dripping Springs Tigers erupted for five runs in the second inning of the Panthers’ opening game, then made it hold up against Liberty Hill’s late-game rally, as the Panthers fell 5-4.
Bryce Dallmeyer singled and scored an unearned run in the second inning to cut the Tigers’s lead to 5-1. The Panthers trimmed the lead to 5-3 in the fifth inning, as they took advantage of a couple of walks, a sacrifice and a passed ball. Colby Schmidt then knocked home the Panthers’ third run of the afternoon.
Matt Parks led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and advanced to second on Jacob Simons’ sacrifice bunt. He scored on an RBI single by Shane Terry to trim the deficit to 5-4, but Terry was later thrown out at the plate trying to score on Jacob Olvera’s ground ball to seal the Panthers’ fate.
Kyle Marshall (0-1) bounced back from the second to work four solid innings, while Dane Rumley held Dripping Springs scoreless over the final three frames.
Second Baptist 4, Liberty Hill 4
Tournament Game Two for the Panthers on Friday (Feb. 24) was a mirror image of the Panthers’ Thursday contest. This time, it was the Panthers who fired out of the gate with a four-run burst in the first inning, only to see Second Baptist chip away and ultimately tie the time-limited contest 4-4 after seven innings.
Colby Schmidt led off the game with a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Jacob Olvera’s RBI single to stake the Panthers to a 1-0 lead.
Following a Fielder’s Choice, Kolby Keith knocked home Olvera with an RBI single, before Bryce Dallmeyer’s RBI triple allowed Keith to trot home with Liberty Hill’s third run. Matt Parks grounded into an RBI Fielder’s Choice out to plate Dallmeyer and the Panthers had a 4-0 lead.
For the second straight game, one rocky inning, a three-run third, blemished an otherwise solid four-inning pitching performance by a Panthers pitcher, this time Jake Ramirez. The Panthers’ bullpen turned in a strong performance, allowing only the tying run over the final three innings.
Liberty Hill 9, Hutto 3
In their second game of the day, the Panthers broke open a 2-2 tie with two runs in the fourth inning and a five-spot in the fifth to defeat the Hippos 9-3.
Jacob Simons led the offensive explosion, going 2-3 with a two-run home run in the fourth and an RBI double in the fifth. Simons snatched the home run Bryce Dallmeyer needed to complete the cycle, as Dallmeyer’s 3-4, 2 RBI performance included a single, double and his second triple in as many games. Kolby Keith and Tyler Barrows each went 2-4 with 2 RBIs to account for the rest of Liberty Hill’s scoring.
Matt Parks pitched the distance, striking out 11 and allowing only two earned runs to earn his first win of the season.
Liberty Hill 6, Marble Falls 3
The Panthers closed out the tournament with a 6-3 victory over the host Marble Falls Mustangs. Liberty Hill scored three runs in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie and held on from there.
Jacob Simon’s two-run double led the Panthers’ attack, with help from Kolby Keith (2-3, RBI); Bryce Dallmeyer (2-4, double, RBI); Garrett Cunningham (2-3, RBI); and Cannon Pryer (RBI Sacrifice Fly).
Shane Terry, Cody Remore and Pryer combined to scatter four hits and two earned runs.
The Panthers closed out the weekend with a 2-1-1 overall record. They will return to action against Rouse on Tuesday (Feb. 28) before competing in the Elgin Tournament this coming weekend.