BELTON — Jordan Parker hadn’t started a single game this season. But the junior responded with a complete-game effort as Liberty Christian defeated Houston St. Pius X 6-1 for the TAPPS Class 5A baseball title at Red Murff Field.
“I’ve been in relief because I had some shoulder problems earlier in the year,” said Parker, who scattered five hits, struck out five and walked only two. “But I felt really good and was in command of everything I threw today.”
Trailing 1-0 in the second, The Warriors (27-9) tied the game without the benefit of a hit. Daniel Keene walked, Grier Newlan was hit by a pitch, and Hunter Griffith reached on an error to load the bases. St. Pius X pitcher Joe Gerringer then balked home the tying run.
Connor McMann padded Liberty Christian’s lead with a third-inning, two-run double. Carson Dowdle and Ethan Luna led off the frame with walks, and McMann delivered his clutch two-base hit to left. McMann also came around to score on Newlan’s RBI single.
“We had the hit-and-run going on the first pitch, and I swung and missed,” McMann said. “I looked silly on the curveball, so I was pretty sure he would throw it again. He hung it, so I drove it.”
The Warriors added insurance runs in the fourth and fifth. Dowdle led off the fourth with a single, went to third on a two-base throwing error and scored on Luna’s sacrifice fly.
Benn Hawkins singled to open the fifth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Newlan sacrificed Hawkins to third, and Trent Hodapp’s grounder to first brought him home.
St. Pius X (26-13) plated its only run in the top of the first. Luis Sanchez walked to start the game, Chase Fontana bunted him to second, and Jerry Murillo delivered the run-scoring single.
Parker gave up another single to Kohl Stewart but then settled down and retired 13 consecutive batters until Stuart Peterson beat out an infield single in the fifth.
“My curveball was in the strike zone,” Parker said. “It was working good.”
The win over defending champion St. Pius X brought Liberty Christian its first state baseball title since 2009.
“It doesn’t matter who you play as long as you win your last game,” head coach Johnny Isom said. “A win in the state championship is just awesome.”
Liberty Christian 6, Houston St. Pius 1
WP — Jordan Parker. LP — Joe Gerringer. 2B — LC: Connor McMann.