By Merle Bertrand, Sportswriter
Even though the eyes of most Liberty Hill fans are trained on the basketball court with both the Runninâ€™ 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 Kristanâ€™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 Hillâ€™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 Panthersâ€™ opening game, then made it hold up against Liberty Hillâ€™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 Tigersâ€™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 Panthersâ€™ third run of the afternoon.
Matt Parks led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and advanced to second on Jacob Simonsâ€™ 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 Olveraâ€™s ground ball to seal the Panthersâ€™ 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 Panthersâ€™ 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 Olveraâ€™s RBI single to stake the Panthers to a 1-0 lead.
Following a Fielderâ€™s Choice, Kolby Keith knocked home Olvera with an RBI single, before Bryce Dallmeyerâ€™s RBI triple allowed Keith to trot home with Liberty Hillâ€™s third run. Matt Parks grounded into an RBI Fielderâ€™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 Panthersâ€™ 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 Dallmeyerâ€™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 Hillâ€™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 Simonâ€™s two-run double led the Panthersâ€™ 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.