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Liberty falls in Western Regional final

Charles Parnow smacked a pair of two-run home runs Monday to lead Petaluma (Calif.) to a 9-0 win over Liberty in the championship game of the American Legion Western Regional in Surprise, Ariz.

Parnow, the No. 9 hitter in Petaluma’s lineup, belted a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning and tacked on another two-run blast with one out in the eighth. He was 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBIs.

Petaluma scored in the top of the first, taking advantage of a two-out walk, two wild pitches and a passed ball to grab the lead for good.

Liberty, which beat Tucson (Ariz.) 13-1 earlier Monday to advance to the title game, had two chances to score early in the game, putting runners at first and second with one out in the first and first and second with no outs in the fourth, but didn’t capitalize.

“We had base runners on,” said Liberty coach Mike Eshragh. “We just couldn’t get the big hits, the two-out hits to produce the runs. We came out in the first game ready to play, and the California team is older than we are. We just ran out of gas with our short roster.”

Petaluma added two runs in the fifth, one on a double play and the other on Robert Busse’s two-out double, to stretch the lead to 3-0 before Parnow took over. Busse was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Dan Skelly, who pitched eight innings on Thursday and three in relief on Sunday, started for Liberty (33-5) and allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings before giving way to Nathan Bennett, who was the winning pitcher on Friday and in Monday’s first game.

“Skelly and Bennett threw a ton of pitches,” Eshragh said. “Our pitchers gave us everything they had.”

Jesse Keiser, Preston Pavlica and Giovanni Battistoni each had two of the Patriots’ 10 hits.

Petaluma advances to the American Legion World Series, which begins Friday in Shelby, N.C.

In Monday’s first game, Keiser went 4-for-4 with two doubles, four runs and three RBIs as the Patriots routed Tucson in seven innings.

Michael Vargas was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, and Josh McCollum went 3-for-4 with four runs for Liberty, which scored three runs in the third inning, five in the fifth and three more in the sixth.

“It was a very successful season,” Eshragh said. “Our goal when we got here was to advance to North Carolina. We came up a little short, but if you had told me at the start of the year we would be 33-5, I would have taken it.”

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