Preps

Wednesday, Apr 24 2013 10:06 PM

Patriots score 6 in 7th to rally past Mustangs

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Justin Nieto scores the winning run for Liberty as Stockdale High's James Carroll makes a catch that comes to late to tag Nieto at home plate. Liberty came back from a 7-2 score in the top of the 7th inning to win the game 8-7 with no outs.

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  2. 2 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's baseball team start their celebration after an amazing come from behind win over visiting Stockdale High. Liberty was down 7-2 in the top of the 7th inning and came back to win the game 8-7.

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  3. 3 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stockdale's Max Carter finds himself in a tight spot between 3rd and home plate as Liberty's Ross Puskarich is in hot pursuit. Carter was tagged out by Liberty's Kaidan Meadows several feet from home plate.

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  4. 4 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stockdale's runner Tyler Owens has nowhere to run except into Liberty's 3rd basemen Ross Puskarich in their Wednesday afternoon game.

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  5. 5 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Josh Medina shows frustration as a ball gets past him as Stockdale's Tyler Owens runs by.

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  6. 6 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stockdale High's Max Carter heads for home after hitting a home run against Liberty High in their Wednesday afternoon game.

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  7. 7 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianStockdale's Max Carter # 3 is met by his teammates after hitting a home run against Liberty Wednesday afternoon.

    Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianStockdale's Max Carter # 3 is met by his teammates after hitting a home run against Liberty Wednesday afternoon.

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  8. 8 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stockdale's runner James Carroll is called out at 1st base as Liberty's Hanz Harker makes the catch.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty's Kaidan Meadows anticipates getting hit by a pitch with bases loaded allowing a Liberty runner to walk in for a score in the 7th inning.

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  10. 10 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty's Christian Sinnott scores a run as Hanz Harker goes up to bat against Stockdale High Wednesday afternoon.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty's Kaidan Meadows delivers a pitch against Stockdale High Wednesday afternoon.

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  12. 12 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty's Hanz Harker returns safe to 1st base as the ball comes in too late for Stockdale's Zack Tanner to make the tag in their Wednesday afternoon game.

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  13. 13 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianLiberty, Stockdale High scores the top of the 7th inning.

    Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianLiberty, Stockdale High scores the top of the 7th inning.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianLiberty, Stockdale High scores the bottom of the 7th inning.

    Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianLiberty, Stockdale High scores the bottom of the 7th inning.

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  15. 15 of 16

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High baseball coach Tony Mills, center, after an amazing comeback victory in the 7th inning to beat Stockdale High 8-7

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianLiberty High baseball coach Tony Mills, center, speaks to his players after coming from behind in the 7th inning 7-2 and winning the game against Stockdale High 8-7 with no outs.

    Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianLiberty High baseball coach Tony Mills, center, speaks to his players after coming from behind in the 7th inning 7-2 and winning the game against Stockdale High 8-7 with no outs.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

With his team's chances in Wednesday's baseball game dwindling and its lead in the Southwest Yosemite League slipping away, Liberty coach Tony Mills gave his team a most hopeful message before the seventh inning:

Maybe, just maybe, lightning can strike twice.

And then, wonder of wonders, it did: For the second time in three years, the Patriots staged a huge rally to stun Stockdale, this time 8-7 on the strength of six runs all scored with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

"We were in the same predicament a couple of years ago, I told them, and the same thing happened," said Mills, whose team scored seven seventh-inning runs to beat Stockdale 7-6 at home in 2011.

This time, Josh Medina led off the inning with a seemingly innocuous single. But Stockdale committed an error on a possible double-play ball, and then Christian Sinnott singled to load the bases.

"We just kept competing," said senior pitcher Kaidan Meadows, who wound up with the win.

"Things weren't going our way for most of the game, but we all still wanted it and still believed."

When Stockdale starter Max Carter hit Meadows with a pitch and walked Tyson Brewer to force in two runs, Mustangs coach Dan Lemon relieved him with Jamie Carroll. But Carroll had trouble throwing strikes, too, and he walked in two runs before Jassen Oliver tied the game with a seeing-eye single to left.

The next pitch was wild, and pinch-runner Justin Nieto raced home with the most improbable of victories.

"You've got to get to 21 outs," Lemon said. "You can't give free passes to a good team like that. (The Patriots) never gave up, and we just couldn't throw strikes in that seventh inning. Everything was going good, and I think we started thinking about the outcome too much. We should have stuck with the process."

The victory allows Liberty (17-8, 7-3 SWYL) to maintain sole possession of first place in the SWYL. Coming into the day, Stockdale, Centennial and Bakersfield all trailed by one game. Of those second-place teams, only Centennial won.

Of course, the Patriots' work is far from over -- and it starts Friday with a return trip to what will surely be a Stockdale team eager for payback.

"This stings," Lemon said, "so let's see how we respond. We've got a bunch of high-character kids, and we expect to come back and compete Friday."

For six and a half innings Wednesday, the Mustangs (12-10, 5-5) were in control. Carter struck out six and worked his way around trouble in the first six innings -- allowing only a two-run homer to Meadows in the third.

Carter himself hit a double and a home run at the plate, and Josh Stone, Junior Felix and Nick Parke all had RBI hits as Stockdale built a 7-2 lead.

"You've got to tip your cap to Max Carter," Mills said. He pitched a great game. He pitched oustanding."

But for Stockdale, the finishing touches weren't there.

"Once we got going and got that tying run on second, I knew we were gonna get it," Meadows said. "It's a great feeling."

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