With his team trailing 6-0 after four innings Monday, Liberty baseball coach Rich Ebarb asked his players for a “little victory.”
Instead, he got a big one.
Behind multiple clutch at-bats and the arm of reliever Garrett Maloney, the Patriots rallied for nine runs in the fifth and went on to beat Spring Valley 9-6 in the opening round of the Class 4A Desert Region tournament at Liberty.
Liberty (21-8-1) will visit Basic (25-4-1) at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a winners’ bracket semifinal, and the Grizzlies (14-15) will host Coronado (18-15) in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“We basically lost the first four innings,” Ebarb said. “We talked in the dugout, and I said, ‘Let’s win this inning and get a little victory.’ Then they put up a nine-spot.”
The Patriots sent 14 batters to the plate in the fifth, chasing Grizzlies starter Braxton Bruschke while collecting five hits and benefitting from four walks, two hit batsmen and two Spring Valley errors. A sharp RBI single up the middle by Mason Bowden gave Liberty its first lead at 7-6, and teammate Zanden Shim made it 9-6 with a two-run single.
“Our hitters just stayed within their at-bats, and then handed it to the next guy,” Ebarb said. “They came up big when they needed to.”
Bruschke was dominant in holding the Patriots hitless for three innings. But the right-hander struggled to find the strike zone in the fifth, and Liberty pounced. Grizzlies reliever Ryan Steinhauer gave up three more runs.
Maloney, meanwhile, came on to relieve in the top of the fifth with his team trailing by six. By the time he took the mound for a second inning of work, he was overpowering in protecting his team’s three-run lead.
“I knew if I came in with authority, I could help switch momentum for our team,” said Maloney, who did not give up a hit. “If you do your job, that’s what happens. And once we put up nine, I wasn’t concerned.”
Though his team committed a season-high seven errors in the game, Ebarb focused on Maloney’s performance.
“He was able to locate his fastball, and he got ahead in the count,” Ebarb said. “It helped that his off-speed pitch was working.”
Kade Higgins went 2-for-5 with a double and a triple to lead Spring Valley, which scored three runs in the first inning and another in the second. Teammate Cesar Perez went 2-for-3.
Dylan San Nicolas went 3-for-4 with a double and two fifth-inning RBIs to help Liberty.
Basic 11, Coronado 1 — At Basic, Demetrius Vigil was 3-for-3 and tossed a five-inning three-hitter to lead the Wolves by the Cougars.
John Howard Bobo was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, and Hunter Katschke, Dominik Tavares and Kyle Turner all went 2-for-3 for Basic.
Jarrett Kenyon was 1-for-2 with a home run for Coronado.
Bishop Gorman 11, Silverado 4 — At Gorman, John Gaughan was 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBIs to help the Gaels top the Skyhawks.
Gavin Mez was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Noah Gulley went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs for Gorman (20-8), which will visit Desert Oasis (27-6) in a winners’ bracket semifinal at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Jarod Hill was 2-for-4 for Silverado (14-14), which will host Durango (15-17) in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Desert Oasis 9, Durango 0 — At Desert Oasis, winning pitcher Josh Sharman was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs as the Diamondbacks blanked the Trailblazers.
Sharman allowed two hits and struck out 12 in five innings.
Aaron Roberts was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Colton Zobrist was 1-for-3 with a home run and and two RBIs for the Diamondbacks.
Andrew Johnson scored the eventual winning run on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth inning as eighth-seeded Cimarron-Memorial stunned host and top-seeded Faith Lutheran, 6-5 in the Mountain Region playoffs.
Johnson was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs, and Elie Kligman went 2-for-3 for the Spartans (18-11), who will visit Arbor View (22-9) in a winners’ bracket semifinal at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Mike Overland was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Cimarron.
Sagan Gronauer was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, and Parker Sylvester, Dylan Schafer and Shane Taylor all went 2-for-4 for the Crusaders (19-8), who will host Centennial (23-10) in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Arbor View 4, Centennial 2 — At Centennial, Steven Giatti was 2-for-3 with two RBIs as the Aggies took down the Bulldogs.
Brennan Holligan and Jesse Pierce combined on a three-hitter for Arbor View.
Sam Simon was 1-for-3 with an RBI for Centennial.
Las Vegas 7, Shadow Ridge 6 — At Las Vegas High, Nathan Freimuth’s single to left field plated Layne Adaro with the winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Wildcats scored three runs in the seventh to edge the Mustangs.
Adaro had an RBI double in the inning, and the Wildcats scored the tying run when Trevor Johnson reached on an error.
Jose Martinez was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Leonel Anaya was 2-for-2 for Las Vegas (23-7), which will visit Palo Verde (23-8) in a winners’ bracket semifinal at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Daniel Martinez had a two-run home run for Las Vegas.
Branson Tressler was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs for Shadow Ridge (19-10), which will host Rancho (14-12-1) in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Ashton Caniglia was 2-for-4 with a double for the Mustangs.
Palo Verde 16, Rancho 5 — At Palo Verde, Peyton Cole was 2-for-4 with a triple, home run, and four RBIs as the Panthers rolled past the Rams in five innings.
Paul Myro was 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and two RBIs, and Nate Bartlett was 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI for Palo Verde. Josiah Cromwick was 2-for-3 with a double and four runs, and PaulShawn Pasqualotto was 1-for-2 with a three-run home run for the Panthers.
Raymond Minero and Elijah Jordan each went 2-for-3 with a double, and Tanner Albright went 2-for-2 with an RBI for Rancho.