Time is right for Miller, Liberty to drop North Carroll, 6-0

Starting pitcher sets tone: throws 4-hitter over 5 1/3 , goes 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs


High Schools

April 21, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Liberty's Jim Miller has had a long time to think about what might have been last spring.

A year ago, he was the losing pitcher when North Carroll, a team Liberty had beaten three times, upset the Lions in the first round of the playoffs and spoiled a 16-3 season.

Yesterday, Miller exacted a measure of revenge by pitching and batting the Lions (5-2) to a 6-0 victory at North Carroll over the previously unbeaten Panthers (7-1).

"I had this game marked on my calendar since last year," Miller said. "I haven't pitched in 1 1/2 weeks. He [coach Erik Barnes] saved me for today. It was nice to get them."

Miller (2-0) allowed four hits, struck out four and walked four through 5 1/3 innings, throwing 104 pitches before giving way to John Bruce in relief.

The 6-foot, 170-pound Miller survived a shaky first inning in which he walked two and threw 30 pitches.

"It's the third game I've thrown 100-plus pitches," he said. "I had my curve working at the beginning of the game, but then lost it and was going with straight fastballs. It was a good move to take me out because my arm was tired, and they were starting to hit it."

Miller's offensive performance also was significant. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs. His two-run homer in the sixth inning completed the scoring. His walk in the fourth forced home a run.

Bruce pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning and retired the Panthers in order in the seventh.

His bat stung North Carroll with an RBI single and a double in four appearances.

"I came out of a huge slump, so this feels good," Bruce said. "This meant a lot. We came ready and ripped it."

Bruce also made the defensive play of the game in the fifth inning with an leaping, over-the-shoulder catch in center field.

Robbie Ruch also had two hits and a walk for Liberty (5-2), a winner of five straight games. The Lions were ranked No. 15 to start the season.

"We've been through a tough week, but we stayed focused and determined and I'm proud of them," Barnes said. "We lost three players yesterday [Thursday], two starters to ineligibility. A third player has a possible broken ankle from practice."

North Carroll starter Chris Painter walked six batters in 4 2/3 innings, including three in a crucial three-run fourth inning.

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