Thursday night marked the third time this year that the North Side Indians and Liberty Tech Crusaders have met on the baseball field.
And for the third time this year, Liberty came away with a victory over its crosstown rival as the Crusaders defeated the Indians 9-4 in the opening round of the District 15-AA tournament.
Liberty used a six-run third inning and a strong performance from starting pitcher Matthew Alexander to secure the victory.
Alexander finished the night with nine strikeouts and three hits allowed in 5.2 innings pitched.
Liberty head coach Danny Giles credited his team’s patient approach at the plate as a key to success.
“We were taking until we got a strike the first time through,” said Giles. “That gave our hitters a chance to see extra pitches and made their pitcher [Del Vaughn] throw more pitches.”
The beginning of the game favored the Indians as Vaughn crossed the plate in the top of the first to put North Side up 1-0, and Liberty struggled to have success against Vaughn’s quirky sidearm delivery on the mound.
Things changed, however, in the bottom of the third inning as Liberty put six runs across the plate thanks to four North Side errors and RBI hits by Alexander, Knox Cavitt and Seth Harrison.
Hunter Brown and Nathan Alexander both got hits and later scored for the Crusaders in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 8-1, and Liberty took control for the rest of the game.
Brown scored again in the fifth on a North Side balk, and Liberty took a 9-1 lead going into the seventh.
North Side scored three runs in the top of the seventh thanks to a couple of hit batters and a Liberty error, but Liberty shut the door on the North Side comeback with a strikeout to end the game 9-4.
Liberty will play top-seeded Ripley Friday at home. North Side will face the loser of Covington and Haywood on Saturday.