There were only four teams left in the division II state playoffs and for Salpointe against Liberty, it was win or go home.
The number five seeded Lions got off to a very fast start which would be all they needed as they eliminated the ten seeded Lancers, eight to two.
With the bases loaded in the first PJ Catera laced a bases clearing double to left field giving the Lions a 3-0 lead.
Liberty would tack on two more runs in the second and in the third putting them out in front 7-1 after three.
That allowed Lion pitcher Zack Johnston to settle in. He had great command and would not allow the Lancers to claw back into the game. Johnston threw five and two thirds innings, giving up five hits, only one run and striking out five.
“You’ve got to get ahead of pitchers and I did that and execute my pitches and that’s all you can do.” explained Johnston.
Salpointe would threaten to come back in both the sixth and the seventh, loading the bases in both innings. But only managed to get one run across between the two innings.
“That’s a big deal,” said Liberty Head Coach Mark Ernster on his team coming out and driving in runs early. “I think coming out like that you just show that you are ready to play. It’s always nice to get those first few runs on the board because you can relax and play your game.”
Liberty will face Saguaro on Saturday at 6:30 from Camelback Ranch Stadium. Winner will have to beat Sunnyslope on Tuesday in order to be crowned the state champion.
For more Arizona High School baseball playoff coverage, follow Jared Cohen on Twitter at @JaredPros2Preps.