Two of the top teams in 5A clashed Tuesday afternoon -- Liberty and Mesquite -- and the stats from the first 17 or 18 games for both indicated pitchers would rule the day.
Not so as Mesquite busted out the bats for the second game in a row, collecting 12 hits enroute to an 8-4 win over Liberty at Mesquite High School. The Wildcats won twice last week with a customary 2-1 win and followed by a 12-0 triumph.
"I expected a low-scoring game," Mesquite coach Jeff Holland said. "It was a surprise. But we're starting to come along with the bats. I'll take it."
Mesquite entered the game sixth in the first 5A power-rankings of the year released earlier in the day. Liberty was slotted at No. 2. Mesquite left the field 13-6 overall and 8-1 in power-ranking games; Liberty 13-5, 6-2.
Mesquite never trailed, but had to answer Liberty rallies three times before opening up some daylight with a three-run outburst in the last of the fifth. The top run producer for Mesquite, which got hits from seven of its nine starters, was leadoff hitter Ethan Long. Long knocked in three runs with a double and triple.
Mesquite second baseman Grant Gorrell, listed at 5-foot-8 on the roster but realistically 5-5, was a catalyst. Gorrell had a perfect day at the pate (3-for-3 plus a walk). He began three-run rallies with hits in the second and fifth. On defense he was part of three middle-infield double plays with shortstop Willie Cano and added assists on two grounders slapped his way. A flawless game.
"He knows the game," Holland said. "You want 15 just like him."
Mesquite, which has given up just 41 runs in 19 games, had senior lefty KC McCormick on the hill against Liberty sophomore righty Chandler Murphy. Murphy was 3-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA when he took the mound. McCormick was 2-1 with an ERA of 1.50 on a deep Wildcats' staff.
Mesquite got to Murphy early scoring four runs on seven hits in the first two innings. Murphy lasted into the fifth and ended up allowing severn runs, six unearned. McCormick allowed seven hits, three walks and four runs in four innings work. David Watson followed McCormick with three innings of two-hit, shutout relief.
"KC didn''t have his A game today, but he battled and gave us what we needed," Hollland said. "I didn't know their kid was a sophomore. He's going to be someone to watch the next couple years."
Liberty's top hitters were Tyler Hajjar (2-3), Brady Welch 2-3 and an RBI and Grant Lung 1-2 with a solo homer and two RBI.