Marcos Rivera called last season a valuable “building year” for Liberty’s baseball program despite missing the playoffs.
The senior right-hander has helped the Patriots construct a contender in the Southeast League that could be headed for its first postseason berth.
Rivera scattered six hits in a complete game, Michael Vargas hit a two-run homer and Liberty cruised to a 6-3 home win over Foothill on Wednesday.
“It’s confidence. We only had one senior leave,” Rivera said of what the Patriots gained since last year. “Everyone’s played a year together.”
Liberty (10-2, 5-1 Southeast) won its fourth straight and will visit Green Valley (15-2, 6-0) on Friday with a chance to grab a share of first place.
“It’s a big win. It puts us a step closer to where we want to be in the end, and that’s making the playoffs and getting our foot in the door,” Liberty coach Nick Didier said.
Foothill’s Kevin Becker singled to lead off the top of the seventh inning, and the Falcons (10-6, 3-3) had the potential tying run on deck with no outs. But Rivera struck out the next two batters before getting Anthony Lopez to ground out to end the game.
Rivera issued no walks, hit one batter and struck out eight.
“I think working ahead in the count really favored him because he could throw the pitches that he wanted to and get the strikeouts he needed in big situations,” Didier said.
Manuel Menocal and Danny Topps had consecutive RBI singles with two outs to highlight a three-run second inning that Liberty used to build a 4-0 lead.
Foothill scored two runs in the third on an RBI single by Lopez and a sacrifice fly by Gabby Soto, but Liberty went ahead 6-2 on Vargas’ two-run shot to left in the fourth.
Liberty pounded out 12 hits, including two each from Menocal, Topps and Josh McCollum.
“I think we can do a little better with situational hitting, moving runners over,” Didier said, “but what’s been helping us is getting the big two-out hit.”