Considering the offensive production he got from his teammates Thursday, Liberty pitcher Chris Bradford could have given up several runs without much concern.
Instead, the right-hander tossed six shutout innings to help the second-seeded Patriots cruise to a 10-0 seven-inning victory over No. 6 Reno in the semifinals of the American Legion state baseball tournament at Wilson Stadium.
Liberty (25-8) will face either Bishop Gorman or Coronado at 6 p.m. Saturday for the championship. Gorman and Coronado will play at 7 tonight, after the Titans handed the Cougars their first loss of the tournament in Thursday’s late game, 15-5 in eight innings.
The Knights (36-20) were eliminated.
"Reno’s a good team," said Bradford, who allowed five hits while striking out three and issuing no walks. "But we came out and got the upper hand. Our bats stayed alive, and the defense did a good job."
The Patriots spotted Bradford (5-1) a 3-0 lead in a first inning that featured RBI singles by Marcos Rivera and Daniel Skelly. Jesse Keiser highlighted Liberty’s three-run third with a two-run triple down the first-base line.
Nathan Bennett helped put the game out of reach with a two-run single that put the Patriots up 10-0 in the fourth.
Liberty coach Mike Eshragh, whose squad beat the Knights 14-4 on Tuesday, said his players followed the game plan.
"We’ve been preaching approach," he said. "We want the hitters to always know the situation. We’ve also been preaching execution and getting those timely hits. We’ve done that for three games now."
■ Bishop Gorman 15, Coronado 5 – Chris Latham went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to help the top-seeded Titans (39-10) stave off elimination with an eight-inning semifinal victory over the No. 8 Cougars (14-11).
Under the tournament’s double-elimination format, Gorman will play Coronado again at 7 p.m. today to determine which team will advance to play Liberty in Saturday’s title game.
The Titans went ahead 4-1 in the fourth inning with an RBI triple by Cole Krzmarzick and a scoring fly by Matt Judd. In the sixth, they made the most of a two-run Coronado error and got RBI singles by Latham and Michael Blasko.
Chris Blake’s two-run double capped a four-run seventh inning to cut the Cougars’ deficit to 8-5, but the Titans answered with seven runs in the eighth to end the game on the mercy rule.
Blake went 3-for-3 for Coronado.