By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The bats of the Liberty High School Raiders could not be quieted on Saturday afternoon.
The Raleigh countians improved to 17-1 this season by clobbering James Monroe 19-4 at Hunnicutt Field on the first day of the 40th Coppinger Invitational Baseball Tournament.
Dakota Boulet drove in five runs and leadoff man Austin Lyons plated three more for Liberty. Both batted 4 for 4 at the plate for the Raiders, who banged out 16 hits to improve on their .364 team batting average coming into the contest.
All nine Liberty starters scored at least one run; Lyons tallied four himself.
Boulet said, “It’s the best day I’ve had this year. I love it ... coming out here and helping the team.”
Lyons said, “I just want to put the ball in play and let it carry over. ... I have as much confidence in the world in everyone behind me, and one through nine, we’re a solid team.”
The Raiders started their usual catcher, Jake Lacek, on the mound to pitch. He struck out four in three innings, giving up two runs, four walks and two hits — both doubles.
“He threw very well,” Lyons said. “He threw his stuff and he had the defense behind him, the whole game.”
Liberty made just one error, leading off the final frame. James Monroe had four errors.
The Mavs started their top pitcher, Caleb Brown, but he left the mound in the middle of the Raiders’ 13-run second inning, that blew open a game that was 2-1.
Liberty head coach J.J. Tabor said, “That’s been our game all year. We try to play for big innings. ... Once they get rolling, it gets scary sometimes.”
“(Brown) is a really good pitcher. I know he is. ... I know we hit a good pitcher today. We had balls dropping in; it was just one of those days that we did good at the plate, and was patient. The boys did a great job. They deserve all the credit.”
For the Mavericks, Reed McNeer and Levi Canterbury each led off innings with walks, and scored runs on doubles by Micah Deskins and Ryan Page, respectively.
In the fifth and final inning, Cory Lilly’s double down the left-field line brought home Preston Jones and Page with the game’s final runs. Page was 2 for 2 at bat.
Mavericks relief pitcher Tyler Moore and his defense retired the final four Liberty batters.
James Monroe head coach John Mustain said, “They hit on Caleb. We made some mental mistakes behind him, and it just snowballed.”
“It was just one of those days. They’ve got a very good team.”
Liberty will advance to the next round of the Coppinger, taking on Richlands at about 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bowen Field in Bluefield. James Monroe starts a five-game home stand on Tuesday, playing Summers County at 5 p.m.
— Contact Tom Bone at
At Hunnicutt Field
James Monroe........011 02 — 4 5 4
Liberty...................2(13)4 0x — 19 16 1
Caleb Brown, Micah Deskins (2), Tyler Moore (3) and Ryan Page. Jake Lacek, Seth Prince (4), Robbie Wright (5) and Trevor Quarles. WP - Lacek. LP - Brown.