Edwin Arroyo beats a Colorado Bomber to second base and then leaps out of the way of the slide Friday at Brent Gould Field. Liberal moved to 3-0 on the season with a 7-1 win. L&T photo/Rustin Watt
By RUSTIN WATT
• Leader & Times
The Liberal Bee Jays moved to 3-0 Friday after defeating the Colorado Bombers 7-1. Catcher Greg McCall tallied two home runs and three RBIs in the contest. With the offense also came the defense with a strong outing from ssttaarter Tyler Rockafellow.
“Rockafellow is really good and when you get pitching like that we’re going to win those games,” Bee Jays head coach Mike Silva said. “With quality starts like that, guys came out of the bullpen and did a good job. Offensively we jumped on them early. That’s kind of the story of the game, jumping on them early. We hit some balls hard late, just kind of right at people, and balls didn’t really carry, but McCall hit those two home runs, that was huge for us.”
For the second consecutive night Liberal was able to jump up 5-0 in the first inning, this time aided by a two-run home run by McCall and a two-RBI single from Bee Jays returner and first basemen Blake Bergeron who made his first start of the season.
The Bee Jays next run didn’t come until the bottom of the fourth when McCall sent another ball over the left field fence, this time a solo shot off the scoreboard, to put Liberal up 6-0 with Rockafellow still on the mound shutting out the Bombers through five.
“He(McCall) was really big for us,” Silva said. “But I think the bigger story is how good of a job he did behind the plate. He really did a great job early in the game getting Rockafellow to settle in and he picked that guy off at first base, that was a huge play for us.”
Rockafellow continued to roll through six upping his pitch count when Silva made a change to Justin Jergenson in the seventh despite having only one runner on base and two outs. Jergenson loaded the bases and walked in a run to allow the Bombers a token run before Jergenson was able to get a groundout to second base.
“Tyler was over his pitch count by about 10 pitches,” Silva said. “I was trying to get him out of the game. We just had a pitch limit, it was his first time out in a while. He hadn’t thrown in a while, and he’s coming off an injury so we didn’t want to run him up there too high. He was good to go I think, but we had some other guys we needed to see before we get into league play.”
Bergeron stepped in with runners on the corners and was able to knock in the last Bee Jay run in the seventh to put Liberal up 7-1 which would be the final. Kasey Merck came in to take the mound in the ninth and closed the game with three quick outs.
“Kasey did a great job,” Silva Said. “They had no chance at hitting him, and Kasey is going to do a great job for us all summer. The first two nights I had to play him in the outfield because we were short on guys, and he did an awesome job hitting. He really looked good on the mound, and it was nice to get him out there and get him some work. We’re expecting big things out of him this summer.”
McCall’s two home runs and three RBIs were enough offense in itself to defeat the Bombers with strong defense behind starter Rockafellow, who in his six and two-thirds of work, gave up no runs on just three hits.
“My fastball was working and had some really good movement,” Rockafellow said. “I didn’t really have any offspeed today, but I had a lot of crosswind helping me so I stuck with the fastball most of the night with the movement I was getting. Every now and then I’d work a slider, but mostly just focused on throwing it by people. The key was getting ahead in the count, when I got ahead things were good, but when I was behind I had to work through and battle a lot.”
Liberal (3-0) played the Bombers Saturday night and will face the Denver Zephyrs at 7 p.m.
Tyler Rockafellow throws a pitch Friday against the Colorado Bombers. Rockafellow dominated for six and two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and did not give up a run while he was on the mound in a 7-1 Bee Jay victory. L&T photo/Rustin Watt