Liberty’s Michael Vargas was well aware of Bishop Gorman’s credentials as he stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning Saturday.
He knew that the defending champion Titans had won five of the past six American Legion state baseball championships, and he knew they had manhandled their opponents in four consecutive wins to reach the title game.
But none of that mattered to Vargas.
In the Patriots’ first championship appearance, Vargas drove a two-run single to right field to tie the game with one out. Liberty scored the go-ahead run one batter later on a throwing error and held on for a 4-3 victory at Wilson Stadium.
“We beat a great team,” Liberty coach Mike Eshragh said. “Gorman has been here before. They’ve done that, and they’ve got the experience.”
The win not only dethroned the Titans (40-11) but also spoiled their impressive march through the losers’ bracket after an opening-round loss to Coronado.
“But you’ve got to beat the best to be the best,” Eshragh said.
The Titans jumped ahead early, taking a 1-0 first-inning lead on Cody Roper’s run-scoring double. A single by Kenny Meimerstorf in the third put Gorman up 2-0.
The Patriots (26-8) made the most of two singles and two Gorman errors in the sixth to cut their deficit to 2-1.
Michael Blasko hit a solo homer in the eighth for Gorman, but the Patriots loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, leading to Vargas’ heroics.
Vargas went 2-for-4 for Liberty. Roper went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and an RBI to lead Gorman.