By JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend’s baseball team tested Liberal — the defending co-Western Athletic Conference champion.
But Liberal delivered the offensive answers with an 11-5 and 11-7 doubleheader sweep at the Great Bend Sports Complex. Liberal (6-0, 2-0 WAC) swept Great Bend (2-4, 0-2 WAC) in back-to-back years for the first time in school history.
LIBERAL 11, GREAT BEND 5 (G1) — Liberal slammed three homers and took advantage of several breaks to pull away for an 11-5 victory.
Cesar Burciaga ignited Liberal’s offense with a two-run inside-the-park first-inning homer. Ericson Vasquez ripped a windblown two-run homer after Elijah McCarter singled home Cyris Dunlap for a 5-2 lead. Francisco Terrazas hit a third homer in the third inning for a 6-2 lead.
Great Bend’s Joey Soupiset’s two-run single scored Koy Brack and Eddie Bujanda in the first inning for a 2-2 tie.
The Panthers were poised to tie the score after scoring three runs in the third inning.
Alex Schremmer, Brack and Eddie Bujanda delivered run-scoring base hits for a 6-5 score with no out. Liberal pitcher Braxton Hyde struck out Townshend Kurth. Colin Hall was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Hyde earned a fortunate break when Riley Smith’s groundball turned into an inning-ending double play when it appeared Liberal’s Javier Bojorquez pulled his foot off first base.
Liberal broke the game open with a three-run sixth inning despite no hits. Reliever Joey Soupiset hit Cyris Dunlap on an 0-2 count. Elijah Carter walked and Soupiset mishandled Vasquez’s bunt to load the bases. Burciaga’s walk forced home Dunlap. Carter scored on Terrazas’ fly ball that turned into a double play. Terrazas scored on an error for a 9-5 lead.
Dunlap singled home Brodie Warren and Dunlap scored on Carter’s groundball to third base.
The Panthers’ bottom four batters had no hits in 11 plate appearances that produced 12 outs.
LIBERAL 11, GREAT BEND 7 (G2) — After Liberal led 10-3, the scrappy Panthers rallied to get within 11-7. Twice, the Panthers saw key baserunners get thrown out on the bases and a crucial double play ended another threat.
Liberal’s Burciaga drove in three runs with four hits and Terrazas drove in three runs. Terrazas drove in two runs in the first inning.
Chance Perry stole home on the back end of a double steal and Eddie Bujanda and Kurth delivered RBI first-inning singles for a 3-2 lead. But catcher Terrazas gunned down Brack to slow the rally.
Burciaga’s two-run double, Terrazas’ RBI double and Ethan Green scoring on a wild pitch made it 6-3. The Panthers aided Liberal’s four-run third inning with two errors, a walk and wild pitch that led to four unearned runs. McCarter and Burciaga drove in runs.
Soupiset tripled and scored on a wild pitch and Eddie Bujanda singled in Schremmer in the third inning. Brack singled home Schremmer to make it 11-6, but he was thrown out at second base.
Schremmer, who scored four runs, made it 11-7 on Bujanda’s double play groundball started by shortstop Burciaga.
Liberal 231 003 2 — 11 9 2
Great Bend 203 000 0 — 5 6 5
Hyde and Terrazas. Kurth, Soupiset (5), Hall (6) and Brack. W—Hyde, 2-0. L—Kurth, 1-1. 2B—GB—Brack, Bujanda; L—Hyde. 3B—L—Dunlap. HR—L—Burciaga, Vasquez, Terrazas.
Liberal 344 100 0 — 11 11 3
Great Bend 302 101 0 — 7 12 2
Warren, Javier (4) and Terrazas. Bieker, Perry (2), Schremmer (4) and Brack. W—Javier. L—Bieker. 2B—GB—Schremmer; L—Curciaga, Vasquez, Terrazas, McCarter, Green. 3B—GB—Schremmer, Soupiset.