Patriots ‘finish strong’ for victory

Coaches always want their players to be learning, especially in a loss.

Liberty baseball coach Wilfredo Rivera thinks the key to a victory on Monday came from a loss on Saturday.

The Patriots scored six runs on just three hits in the top of the seventh inning Monday to rally for an 8-5 road win over Coronado.

“We lost an opportunity on Saturday, but that taught our boys a good lesson about not finishing the game,” said Rivera, whose team lost 5-3 to Faith Lutheran on Saturday. “We learned from that experience that we can do this, we can finish strong. I chalk it up to Saturday’s loss that we won today.”

Coronado starter Christian Sanford had given up just four hits through six innings, and carried a 5-2 lead into the seventh.

He struck out the first batter he faced before yielding his first walk. Ryan Meservey then hit a grounder up the middle. Coronado shortstop Noah Hemphill made a diving stop, but was unable to complete the glove flip to second, and the Patriots (17-7, 10-3 Division I Sunrise League) had two runners on.

Jake McLean relieved Sanford, and Daniel Gonzalez greeted him with a chopper through the right side of the infield to load the bases.

A run came home on a passed ball, and McLean walked the next three batters to force in two more and tie the game.

“Hey, last inning we’ve got to see one,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to see a strike and make that pitcher work, and my boys did that. They did exactly what I asked them to do. It was scripted that way. It’s amazing when you execute what the coaches say.”

Sean Hofmans relieved McLean and gave up a sacrifice fly to Omar Ortiz that gave the Patriots a 6-5 lead. Jacob Klein ripped a double into the left field corner to score two insurance runs.

Liberty reliever Zack Reed came on in the second with the team down 4-0 and shut down Coronado’s bats. He allowed one hit and struck out eight in 4 2/3 innings.

“Wonderful job,” Rivera said. “It’s just what we expected out of Zackary. That’s his role with our squad is come in at any time and shut the door for us.”

Liberty and Coronado (12-8-1, 9-4) came into the game in a five-way tie atop the Sunrise League. The Patriots now are tied with Green Valley and Basic. Coronado dropped to fifth.

“We’re all in that little bunch,” Rivera said. “There are four, five of us. We need some separation. This will allow us to separate at least from Coronado for a day. And we’ll see what happens. I can’t write the book, I just kind of roll with the flow.”

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at 702-380-4587 or Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters

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