JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
LIBERTY HILL — The fight for the District 8-3A baseball championship lived up to the billing.
But, in the end, Liberty Hill took advantage of one Llano mistake to claim the title with a 4-3 victory in eight innings April 22.
“(The game) didn’t bounce our way in the end,” Llano head coach Stephen Campbell said. “We had a couple of errors.”
But not all was lost for the Yellow Jackets, however. With Burnet falling 9-8 to Brownwood on the same night, Llano (12-13 overall, 7-3 district) is the district runner-up.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Panthers first baseman Mason Baty was awarded a base after being hit by a pitch. With two outs, junior David Nash was inserted as a pinch runner.
Liberty Hill senior shortstop Cody Remore recorded a single to center field. But Nash, who never stopped running, rounded the corner to third and saw that the throw to third baseman Eli Tiffin was high. So he went home for the winning run.
Meanwhile, Liberty Hill (22-5 overall, 9-1 district) rode the broad shoulders of junior left-handed pitcher Marshall Brown. He took over in the fifth inning and struck out the first six Jackets. Of the 12 batters he faced, only one reached base, on a walk.
“Brown locates his pitches and keeps everything down,” Campbell said. “I’m glad I don’t have to see him anymore. They’re tough to beat at this place.”
Llano struck first, scoring three runs in the second inning. Logan Bauer singled to the center-right field gap, while Tiffin hit a single to right field. Tommy Yelvington recorded an RBI off a sacrifice fly ball, Taylor Sorenson added a one-run double, and a throwing error allowed Chance Ware to reach base for an RBI.
The Panthers answered in the third. Senior Kake Stalder hit a one-run single, while senior Colby Schmidt added an RBI off a sacrifice fly ball, and Baty recorded a one-run single.
Llano senior Sorenson took over the pitching duties in the fourth inning. He faced 17 batters and gave up one unearned run and one hit.
Sorenson, who said he was in a rhythm after he finished his first inning, enjoyed the pitching duel against Brown.
“He’s a good pitcher,” he said. “I felt good. Once I calmed down on my high velocity, I was hitting spots. I love the fact their backs were against the wall. I love that pressure. I love to have to hit this spot.”
Sorenson committed to play baseball at Texas Lutheran University and will major in a science field.
Campbell praised his players, noting they started the season at 2-7 overall and 3-2 in district play. Then, they went on a four-game winning streak to power their way to a possible share of the division crown.
“I’m proud of the kids,” he said. “The kids work hard. Give 100 percent effort. We go compete and do our best the whole game. We don’t mind being blue collar.”
ON OFFENSE: (Llano) RBIs – Taylor Sorenson 1, Chance Ware 1, Tommy Yelvington 1; (Liberty Hill) RBIs – Jake Stalder 1, Colby Schmidt 1, Mason Baty 1
ON DEFENSE: (Liberty Hill) winning pitcher – Marshall Brown, no runs, no hits, 1 walk with 8 strikeouts in four innings; (Llano) losing pitcher – Taylor Sorenson, 1 unearned run off 1 hit with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts
RECORDS: Llano is 12-13 overall and 7-3 in District 8-3A; Liberty Hill is 22-5 overall and 9-1 in district.
UP NEXT: bi-district championship with opponent, date and time to be determined
DISTRICT 8-3A BASEBALL STANDINGS
Liberty Hill 9-1 (def. Llano 4-3 in 8 innings)
Gatesville 3-7, 10-18 (def. Lampasas 4-3)
Brownwood 3-7, 9-18
Lampasas 2-8, 4-16