Late surge keeps Liberty alive in American Legion regional tourney

Liberty’s American Legion baseball team rallied for five runs in the top of the sixth inning Sunday en route to a 7-4 victory over League City (Texas) to stay alive in the American Legion Western Regional at Surprise, Ariz.

The Patriots (32-4)­ will play Tucson (Ariz.) at 10 a.m. today, with the winner of that game facing Petaluma (Calif.) at 1 p.m. for the championship.

Liberty was trailing 4-0 after five innings, but Preston Pavlica’s infield single triggered the rally. Josh McCollum doubled and Jesse Keiser walked to load the bases before the next two batters were retired.

Ethan Ibarra’s infield single scored Pavlica, and Griffin Kelly was hit by a pitch to force in another run. Giovanni Battistoni had an RBI infield single to score Keiser, and Nathan Rush doubled to score two runs to give Liberty the lead.

The Patriots added two runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Battistoni and an error.

Ibarra, who pitched the final two outs in an 18-4 loss to Petaluma on Saturday, threw six solid innings to get the win. He allowed four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.

Dan Skelly, who pitched eight innings to get the win in the opener Thursday, threw three scoreless innings to get a save. He allowed two hits and struck out three.

Pavlica and Battistoni each went 3-for-4 to lead the Patriots, and Ibarra was 2-for-5.

Jack Kaiser was 2-for-5 with a solo homer for League City.

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