Liberty deals No. 7 Westminster its first loss, 5-4

April 19, 1995|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

Saying his team looked terrible during pre-game warm-ups, Liberty coach Steve Insley pulled the Lions off the field before the drills were finished.

"We weren't ready to play," said Insley.

That soon changed.

Liberty quickly took control with three runs in the top of the first inning, and pitcher Eric Eldridge went the distance with a five-hitter as the visiting Lions handed No. 7 Westminster its first loss, 5-4, in a Carroll County game yesterday.

Insley said the quick start gave Liberty confidence. The Lions (5-4, 1-1, 3-2 in the Central Maryland Conference) got three runs on four hits in the top of the first, and Insley said his team seized on that.

"Once we realized we could hit, then we [realized] we could win," said Insley. "When we hit the ball, we can play with anybody in the league."

And the Lions certainly hit the ball. They had 12 hits -- five for extra bases -- and put runners on base in six of the seven innings.

They started right away. With one out in the top of the first, Jon Felmey (3-for-3) singled. Daryl Knight (single, double, triple, 3-for-4) then followed with a triple to make it 1-0.

Knight scored when Dave Tumblin followed with an infield single. Tumblin went to second on a throwing error and later scored when Ryan Renehan (two RBIs) drew a bases-loaded walk for a 3-0 lead.

Westminster (10-1, 1-1, 4-1) answered in the bottom of the first when B.J. Hanley lined a two-run double to left-center. But Eldridge took over after that.

The right-hander changed speeds, locations and pitches to keep the Westminster batters quiet. The Owls got only three hits after the first inning -- including two infield hits -- and hit only four balls out of the infield after that.

"I was trying to mix it up," said Eldridge (1-1). "I knew they were a good hitting team."

But the Lions continued to hit well while Westminster did not. Felmey's sacrifice fly scored Eldridge -- who singled, stole second and went to third on a throwing error -- for a 4-2 lead in the fourth.

In the fifth, Liberty's Chris Devins (2-for-3) tripled with one out for his second extra-base hit of the game. He scored on a Renehan infield single to make it 5-2.

Westminster rallied with single runs in the fifth and sixth, but Eldridge slammed the door by retiring the final five batters.

Eldridge got lots of help from his defense -- especially shortstop Renehan. The sophomore had seven assists, including one on a double play, and two putouts. He ended the game with a spectacular leaping catch of a Denny Bowers shot.

Both teams made two errors, and while the Westminster errors helped the Lions score three times, Liberty miscues only led to one.

"They scored a couple of runs [early] and that gave them some confidence," said Westminster coach Carl Rihard. "Everything they did was right, and they walked away with a win."

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