Mountain Ridge pitching does not miss a beat

Jeff Edgington
Special to Independent Newsmedia

Friday brought good news for the state baseball runner-up Glendale Mountain Ridge.

Junior Matthew Liberatore brought his A material again. The University of Arizona commit scattered six Tempe Corona del Sol runners. Only one touched the dish in a 5-1 Mountain Lions road win.

Mountain Ridge senior Trent Turner gets in his stance Friday, March 24 at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe. [Jeff Eddington/For West Valley Preps]
Bad news for the rest of 6A. Mountain Ridge isn’t quite 100 percent still. It could be any day now though.

“It could’ve been today. We got Tommy (Lowe) some work this week. He has been cleared. We’ll get him a few innings in the (Coach Bob) Invitational. As for Matthew he had it tonight. Worked around a few base-runners. Thats a good team,” Mountain Ridge Coach Lance Billingsley said.

That lethal 1-2 punch they’ve been eyeballing is close to being unleashed with senior ace Lowe being close to returning from an arm injury for Mountain Ridge.

The Lions are exactly treading-water in a brutal 6A pool. Quite the opposite the team is 7-0 in power point games — with a tie against Chandler Hamilton that will be made up in April — and 10-2-1 overall.

Friday they generated five runs off Corona del Sol and won by four in a battle of regular season unbeatens.

A balk in the top of the third ignited the scoring. The Lions benefited from three of those on the afternoon.

Resilience in responding to a tying run two batters into the fourth proved pivotal. From there they built on it. Trent Turner hit a two-run shot to right make it 4-1.

Corona del Sol (11-4, 6-1) couldn’t muster much off of the southpaw at all. Coach Dave Webb was quick to tip his cap to Liberatore.

“He’s good. We knew that entering this. Difficult getting any offense going. Not making excuses but we’ve been spreading a sickness around and we’re missing a few people. Kind of odd actually,” Coach Webb said.

Matt Novis was missing this afternoon. It did not help their approach versus the crafty Liberatore. He struck out eight and did not walk anyone in six innings.

Mountain Ridge deeper than two pitchers. They are mixing in some other young arms.

Senior Nolan Ruff threw the seventh and has started critical games this year. Freshman Zach Rogers is even 2-0.

“We’re going to see what we can get and how much we can build in this invitational next week. Our region is brutal. We’ve seen something in the youngster. We will need everyone to contribute,” Coach Billingsley said.

Coach Billingsley’s squad has already defeated Boulder Creek twice. They know Desert Valley Region foes Horizon, Pinnacle, Desert Mountain, and rival Sandra Day O’Connor await once the calendar flips to April.

The Mountain Lions getting those key contributions from throughout the lineup. Six hitters are over .320 (minimum 25 plate appearances). Clawing at a state title run could be reasonable.

The Aztecs have started out well but ran into a buzzsaw. Webb was focused on keeping his boys mentally in it daily.

“We have to come ready to go. We’ll illustrate that 6A is a grind. The Central Region is up for grabs,” Coach Webb said.

Similarities abound in these two contenders. Soon New Mexico State commit (Lowe) returns to bolster the staff.

“He’ll be a good mid-season transfer so-to-speak,” said the fourth-year skipper.

Jokes aside, it could potentially put them over the top on the rest of the big-schools.

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