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Liberty baseball continues hitting barrage

Liberty might as well be swinging at a watermelon the way it has used the bats this season.

The Patriots outscored their first four opponents 36-9, and they had 37 more hits than the opposition.

It was no different Saturday at Rancho.

Liberty’s first five batters got hits, including three doubles, to give the Patriots a 5-0 first-inning lead. They went on to beat the Rams 11-3 in the Lion Kickoff Tournament.

“We’ve been talking about approach, and they came with a purpose today,” Liberty coach Nick Didier said. “They did a great job getting the bat on the ball.”

Liberty’s Nick Rush and Josh McCollum started the first inning with singles off Dylan Pletsch before consecutive doubles from Jesse Keiser, Jay Martz and Dan Skelly made the score 4-0. Ethan Ibarra added a one-out, RBI double for the Patriots before Pletsch ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. Pletsch didn’t return to the game because of elbow discomfort.

“Our offense has been helping our pitchers,” Didier said. “Just making them feel comfortable throwing strikes, and that’s what it’s really all about with our pitchers.

“We lost some pitching (from last season). We lost our two front-end guys, so other guys are just going to have to step up. The young guys coming in are doing a good job. We’re deeper with our pitching staff this year. If we play catch, we’ll be there with everyone.”

Martz was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a stolen base for Liberty, which got two RBIs apiece from Keiser and Skelly.

Justin Lutes started on the mound for the Patriots and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out two. Braedon Billiu pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief to get the win.

Rancho (3-2) left nine players on base, including seven in scoring position.

The Rams scored their first run in the sixth with a one-out double down the left-field line by Zach Barnhart that brought home Cody Suarez, who led off the inning with a double.

Shortstop Juan Cruz went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI to lead Rancho, and Jose Verdugo had two singles.

The Patriots, who later beat Canyon View (Utah), improved to 6-0, all on the road.

“We’re just playing good baseball,” Didier said. “To start the season, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I hope it continues.”

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