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Hurwitz, bullpen help Liberty hold off Fort Zumwalt North

Liberty left fielder Josh Parmentier gets high-fives at the plate from two teammates after slamming a two-run homer in the first inning of a Gateway Athletic Central conference baseball game at Fort Zumwalt North on Tuesday, April 4. [Jonathan Duncan/Mid-Rivers Newsmagazine photo]

Zack Hurwitz and Josh Parmentier provided the bats and the Liberty High bullpen was steady in relief as the Eagles withstood a fierce seventh inning rally from Fort Zumwalt North to prevail for a 9-7 victory in a matchup of Gateway Athletic Conference Central rivals Tuesday at Fort Zumwalt North.

The two teams combined for 26 hits in a slugfest where pitching was challenged from start to end.

Liberty (6-1, 1-0) won its first conference game and is rolling along early thanks to a four-game winning streak.

“We’ve got a good team, we’re 6-1 now and this is good group of kids,” Liberty coach Don Joliff said.

“It’s a good win for us against a really good team.”

The Eagles had the bats cracking right away as Panthers starter Jake Gentry was rocked in the first inning. Hurwitz lashed a two-run triple to the left field fence to make it 2-0.

James Dotson singled home Hurwitz for a run and then Parmentier hammered a 1-1 pitch from Gentry over the left field fence for a two-run homer, pushing the lead to 5-0. Hurwitz and Parmentier each had two hits.

Dotson added to the Eagles lead with an RBI-single in the top of the third and the lead was 6-0. It was a big day for Dotson as he went 4 for 4 with 2 RBI and two runs scored.

After a quiet first two innings against Liberty starter Chase Hoeber, Zumwalt North (5-4, 2-1) rallied the bats in the third.

Eric Rothermich singled home a run with on out to get the Panthers on the board and then a Casey Mareschal single and a two-out bases-loaded walk to Jesse Vitale plated two more runs cutting it to 6-3 and that ended the day for Hoeber, who was relieved by Hurwitz. Mareschal was 2 for 4 at the plate.

Hurwitz struck out DJ Schmidt to end the threat in the third.

Liberty added a run in the fourth on an RBI-double by Hoeber.

In the top of seventh, the Eagles added a pair of insurance tallies, stretching their cushion to 9-3.

Despite stranding 11 baserunners through the first six frames, the Panthers still had one more chance to come back in the bottom of the seventh.

Kyle Mallet singled to lead off. Vitale ripped a double to right making it second and third with no outs. Schmidt coaxed a walk out of Hurwitz and Hurwitz was forced to leave at that point due to MSHSAA pitch count regulations.

“I would like to have kept Zack in the game, we have a big tournament coming up this weekend but with the new MSHAA rules with the pitch count, I had to get him out and the kid was cruising,” Joliff said. “I like the rule but in the situation he was in, I wish I could have kept him in there.”

Michael Winn relieved Hurwitz and was rudely greeted, as Travis Dames blasted a 1-2 pitch from from Winn high over the right field fence for a grand slam that shaved the lead to 9-7.  Dames was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and four RBI.

Winn then promptly retired the next three Panther hitters to preserve a gritty Eagles road win.

“My pitchers they know when the take the mound they are going to keep us in games and our defense knows they are going to keep us in games,” Joliff said. “We have some guys that can swing the bat and we have some guys that are gonna come around, so these guys (Zumwalt North) are tough and it was a good win to get.”

Hurwitz struck out five and walked three in three and a third innings of relief to get the win. Gentry took the loss.



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