By SHAWN YORKS
• Leader & Times
It doesn’t matter where they are in their respective seasons or what the conditions are, the Liberal Redskins and Guymon Tigers will play their best against one another.
Such was the case Saturday at the Liberal Athletic Complex, where the Redskins and Tigers battled back and forth, with Guymon getting the better of the ‘Skins, 14-12.
“Regardless of records and where we’re at, it’s always a pretty good contest between us and Guymon, historically,” Liberal head coach Eric Olmstead said. “The kids get excited to play each other and I know it’s a pretty big win for whomever does win.”
Guymon has been doing a lot of winning this season — the Tigers are off to an 11-1 start. Guymon was fresh off a 4-game home-and-home with Clayton, N.M., in which the Tigers out-scored the Yellowjackets 96-2, including a 44-1 win in Clayton.
“I told the team this is the second half of our season now, we’re 0-0, coming up against a big rival, we needed to get up and get motivated and that’s what we got,” Guymon head coach Dave O’Sullivan said.
With winds gusting over 40 mph straight out the left-center field, conditions were not favorable for pitchers. But Guymon junior Gerardo Martinez managed to keep the Redskins (1-2) in check for six innings.
The game was nip-and-tuck the whole way. After Guymon (11-1) jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI double by Fernando Acosta, Liberal surged ahead 2-1 on a 2-run double by Jose Pando.
Guymon pulled back even in the top of the second when Seth Sanders led off with a single and later scored on a double by Manny Gaudian.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the third when the Redskins inched ahead. Jared Hall reached second on an error and eventually came in to score on a double by Tyson Deaton.
Guymon plated three in the fourth when Kyle Caudell doubled in Genaro Berrera and Landon Wadley. Caudell later came in on a single by Dang Dang and Guymon was up 5-3.
Liberal again pulled ahead in the fifth inning when Pando hit a wind-aided inside-the-park home run that also scored Hall to tie it. Then Dustin Loftis hit into a fielder’s choice to score Deaton.
“It was just a hitter’s dream that day,” Olmstead said. “It certainly helped put some runs on the board. Both teams hit the ball pretty well.”
But the pendulum swung back in Guymon’s direction the next inning when Acosta reached on an error that scored Caudell then Martinez knocked in Acosta to make it 7-6 Tigers.
Martinez buzzed through the Redskins in the bottom of the sixth, then the Guymon offense pulled away with a 7-run outburst in the top of the seventh to go up 14-6. Wadley hit a 2-run single, Dang knocked in a run and Acosta hit a 2-run triple, later scoring on a wild pitch. Kolton Renteria then singled and scored on an error on a pick-off attempt at second.
Turns out, Guymon would need all the runs it could get, as Liberal had one last rally left in it after Martinez ran out of gas in the bottom of the seventh.
The first two Liberal batters walked before Dalton Rutledge singled in Deaton and Bryan Morris doubled in Dalton Holder to makes it 14-8.
That brought in Caudell in relief, and the next Redskin hit a 2-run single to make it 14-10 Tigers — with nobody out. After Caudell got the first out, Freddy Gomez tripled to score another run, then Pando struck again for Liberal with an RBI single to make it a 2-run game.
But Caudell settled down, striking out Hall and Deaton to end the game.
“We scored seven in the seventh inning and we needed almost all seven of those runs,” O’Sullivan said. “(Liberal) has a quality program and those kids battled until the last.”
“It just came down to a couple plays that maybe we could have got out of an inning or maybe gave them a little too much,” Olmstead said. “I was pleased with how we battled, came back in the seventh and gave it a shot. Something to build on for us.”
Liberal will play host to Great Bend on Tuesday.