Liberty rallies to stay alive in Legion regional

Liberty’s American Legion baseball team was down to its final three outs and staring at elimination Sunday.

No problem.

The Patriots scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, capped by Griffin Kelly’s two-out, two-run double to right-center field for an 8-7 victory over Lakewood (Calif.) in the Legion Western Regional at Fairfield, Calif.

“It was a great feeling, one of those things just like the state title game,” said Liberty coach Mike Eshragh, whose team rallied for a 4-3 win over Bishop Gorman in the state final. “We told these kids to believe again. We just needed to get base runners on and get that timely hit.”

Kelly’s timely hit ended a 14-pitch at-bat as the Patriots staved off elimination to reach the final day of the tournament.

Liberty (29-9) will play Fairfield (Calif.) at 4 p.m. Monday, with the winner meeting Lakewood in the final at 7:30 p.m. The regional champion advances to the Legion World Series at Shelby, N.C.

Liberty’s Marcos Rivera singled home Jay Martz before Jesse Keiser’s sacrifice fly scored Michael Vargas to pull Liberty within 7-6 in the ninth.

Rivera was called out at third for the second out of the inning as Christopher Bradford reached on a fielder’s choice. Kelly’s double then plated Daniel Skelly and Bradford to end the game.

Skelly went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Keiser drove in two runs, and Vargas was 2-for-2 and scored twice.

Trevor Williams struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get the win.

Liberty 8, Lakewood (Calif.) 7
Lakewood    202    010    020    –    7    12    2
Liberty          102    000    104    –    8    10    2
McNeil, Timmons (5), Colvin (9), Roberts (9) and Kolb; Bennett, Williams (8) and Maurer, Kelly (8). W–Williams. L–Roberts. 2B–Lake: Reeser, Clary; Lib: Kelly, Skelly, Vargas.