Lions run wild over Sunrise Mountain in 5

Jeff Edgington
For West Valley Preps

Isaiah Montoya threw a complete-game one-hit shutout and Liberty beat their rival Sunrise Mountain 10-0 in a rare five-inning mercy rule contest.

Beforehand two military veterans from the 1960s threw out ceremonial first pitches.  It was very classy and very fitting.

Liberty’s Isaiah Montoya (#5) throws a pitch against Sunrise Mountain Thursday, March 2, 2017 at Liberty High School in Peoria. (Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia)

The Lions have 13 seniors on the roster and their veteran presence showed on this afternoon.

Montoya corralled the Mustangs the first time through the order with ease, except for a blooper down the line that could have been marked an error. The decision for the first base-runner proved to cost a game-shortened run-rule no-hitter.
“Isaiah was locked in today. They had that one hit and he walked a guy. That’s about all you can ask and then some,” Liberty Coach Chris Raymond said.
Liberty jumped out to a big lead in the first with 2 RBI doubles; first Nick Hamilton to left (scoring two) and then Montoya helped his own cause.
The Lions added one in the second off Mustangs senior ace Timothy Mendez.
It was first start in which Mendez failed to get through the fourth in recent memory. Mustangs Coach Eric Gardner went to the bullpen throwing Riley Kohler and Dylan Bonzo.
Grant Lung, Derek Legeza, Sam Stewart, Hamilton, Brady Welch, and Tyler Hajjar all contributed with multiple hit efforts.
The Lions added three in the third and fourth to add insurance and deliver an emphatic statement. Sunrise Mountain had had their way in this matchup recently.
A complete-game, albeit short, seven strikeout effort in which he faced just 17 hitters was pretty confident building for Raymond and his starter.

“The boys came to play today. At around 2 or so when they got to the field they were locked in. Whether it was the competition ahead of them, or the quality competition we’ve had already to prepare us. They came to play. It’s a great win against,” Raymond said.

Sunrise Mountain’s Daniel Partida (#2) attempts to bare-hand a ground ball against Liberty Thursday, March 2, 2017 at Liberty High School in Peoria. (Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia)
 Montoya echoed his coach, who was Gardner’s longtime pitching coach for the Mustangs.
“Always great to defeat your neighbor. We can’t dwell on it too much we have Pinnacle up next,” Montoya said.
With an abnormal assortment of seniors at his disposal this season the goals are set high. This has the makings of something special.
“We feel a positive direction is ahead. A deep playoff run isn’t a stretch,” said one of just two junior starters, Brady Welch.
Sunrise Mountain (0-1) will have to adjust. Under Gardner they’ve been a west-side power for longer than these current students have been around.
Pieces of last year’s 18-12-1 big-division tournament team are in place. But the team must work on replacing all-state selection Kyle Riordan, as well as Hunter Lessard and Lucas Wall.
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