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Pethtel's gem lifts Liberty past Lincoln

By Chris Errington


SHINNSTON -- Two teams known for hitting relied on pitching in the Class AA Region I, Section 3 baseball tournament Tuesday as Lincoln's Pat Moore and Liberty's Jeff Pethtel matched each other in one of the best duels of the year.

In the end, two unearned runs proved to be the difference in Liberty's 2-1 victory.

With the win, Liberty (24-6) will play Thursday against the winner of today's Lincoln-Ritchie County elimination game.

"It was just another one of those classic Liberty-Lincoln games," Liberty coach Pete Iquinto said. "We didn't hit the ball that well, but a lot of that had to do with their pitcher. This was one of the best pitched games you'll see around here."

Ryan Dean's double to left-center in the sixth drove in Scott Morris with the game-winning run.

Other than that, Moore (5-4) dominated Liberty hitters. The righty gave up two hits while striking out eight over six innings. Four Lincoln errors that led directly to both Mountaineer runs finally proved his undoing.

Pethtel was just as impressive. The senior lefty went the distance and improved to 4-1 by scattering five hits and striking out 12.

Pethtel was even more dominant when Lincoln threatened.

Lincoln (16-12) lost chances to take an early lead by leaving the bases loaded in both the second and third innings, the latter with none out, and were in position to tie the game in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded.

One out after Pethtel walked Jimmy Riley and Jesse Pill to start the seventh, Clarence Fiber singled to right to score Riley and pull the Cougars to within 2-1. After another out, Roy Sampson coaxed the third walk of the inning to load the bases for designated hitter Adam Pratt.

But with Lincoln just a hit away from tying the game or taking the lead, Pethtel got Pratt to ground to third to end the game.

"I was a little upset with myself for not throwing strikes. I could have cost us the game," Pethtel said. "The heat took a lot out of me, but in these games, you can go the distance on adrenaline."

For Lincoln coach Frank Lopez, Tuesday's game was a painful reminder of past encounters with the Mountaineers.

"We've been in this situation all year," Lopez said. "We always seem to play Liberty tough, but never can get over the hump. You just can't expect the kids to get it done every time out there.

"I think the kids want a rematch with Liberty, so I know we won't have a problem getting them up for (today)."

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