By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
A season that began with hopes of moving to the next level ended with the same record as the previous year when the Redskins lost the first round of the Class 5A playoffs to Ark City 5-1 in Andover Tuesday.
After an eight-game winning streak that was highlighted with solid play in the field, the Redskins committed eight errors in the crucial first-round playoff game and left 13 on base, three times ending innings with the bases loaded.
Tyson Deaton pitched for the Redskins, and despite a few walks kept the Redskins close.
But the errors and inability to get a key hit with runners in scoring position doomed Liberal’s hopes to advance.
What made the pill harder to swallow for head coach Eric Olmstead was the type of plays that the Redskins defense didn’t execute.
“They were all routine plays,” Olmstead said. “Some were throwing errors. We just physically could not field and throw the baseball well. Ark City is a good team, and you can’t beat a good team with that many unearned runs.”
The Bulldogs only scored one earned run, but the Redskin fielding struggles led to multiple opportunities, and Ark City was abel to plate four more runs.
Still, the Redskins battled until the final out. Liberal had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh with the tying run at the plate before a routine play ended the game and the season for the Redskins.
“We got beat by a good team,” Olmstead said. “I was proud of them. We didn’t put a lot of emphasis on physical errors. Mentally we stayed in it and ran the bases well. We didn’t have a great approach, but we had five hits in the last two innings. We gave effort, we just couldn’t come up with a big hit to plate some runs.”
Freddy Gomez went two-for-four, and Austen Pitts was two-for-three with a walk. But other than that, the Redskins only had two ground ball outs. The rest were pop flies and strike outs.
“We put no pressure on them,” Olmstead said. “It was a little unfortunate. We hit some hard balls, but right at them. It just wasn’t our day.”
Liberal ended with a record of 13-8, the same record as a year ago. Olmstead wanted to see that improve.
“The record, depending on your schedule, is out the window,” he said. “We need to get to the next level. Our summer program needs to play more competitive baseball. Our freshmen need to be better prepared. Junior Babe Ruth needs to be more competitive.”
Olmstead said he was proud of the senior class, the first to to go all four years under his program as head coach.
“Hopefully we taught them something,” he said. “They know how to play the game right. In looking back, we have some holes to fill.”
The Redskins will take a couple of weeks off before the beginning of the summer program.
“We will hit it hard in June and half of July. We’re hosting State Senior Babe Ruth this year.”
But looking forward was difficult for Olmstead after having the Redskins season end.
“It stings a little now,” he said. “It felt like we underachieved a little. They could have folded up earlier in the season and they didn’t. It was good to see them battle. We will be back. We will get this thing going.”