ARGYLE — Luke Chavez insists he is the furthest thing from a power hitter. The Liberty Christian junior said his own teammates poke fun at him, for at times barely being able to hit the ball beyond the infield.
No one was laughing at Chavez on Tuesday, as he came up with three extra-base hits and three RBIs while leading the Warriors to an 11-1 win in five innings over San Antonio St. Anthony in a TAPPS Class 5A bi-district playoff game at Lovelace Family Stadium.
“I’ve maybe had six or seven extra-base hits all year, but I’ve been seeing the ball well since last Thursday,” Chavez said. “It worked out for me tonight.”
Chavez’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fifth ended the game by run rule. He added two doubles and a single to finish 4-for-4.
Liberty Christian (19-18), the defending TAPPS 5A state champs, advances to face Houston St. Pius X on Saturday, with the winner of that regional-round game moving on to the state tournament. The Warriors beat St. Pius 6-1 in last year’s state final.
“Any time you play a team from Houston, it’s tough, because if you don’t play well, you are going to be in trouble,” Liberty Christian coach Johnny Isom said of his team’s next opponent. “They [St. Pius] are a great program, and they play clean baseball.”
Isom agreed his team couldn’t have started the postseason any hotter, though.
The Warriors pounded out 13 hits against the Yellowjackets (17-14), and Chavez wasn’t the only one with a big stick as seven of the team’s hits went for extra bases. Danny David Linahan drove in three runs while going 3-for-3 with a double. Weldon Whittle and Hunter Griffith both doubled, while Garrett Newland’s pinch-hit triple in the bottom of the fourth gave Liberty Christian a 9-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Tyler Duck got the start on the mound for Liberty Christian and went the distance, giving up five hits and striking out four. He gave up a run in the fourth, but his teammates had already built him an eight-run lead going into the frame.
Conversely, St. Anthony pitcher Julian Cantu struggled with his command from the outset , walking the first batter he faced.
After Chavez doubled on the next at-bat, Cantu loaded the bases with another walk and gave up a sacrifice fly to Connor McMann for Liberty’s first run.
Liberty led 4-0 after that first frame and added at least one run in each of the next four innings. Chavez’s second double gave the Warriors a 5-0 lead through two innings. They added three more in the third before St. Anthony plated its lone run.
The Warriors increased their lead to back to eight runs in the bottom of the fourth off Newland’s triple. Linahan followed with an RBI single for the 10-1 lead, which set up Chavez’s blast the very next inning.
Liberty Christian 11, San Antonio St. Anthony 1
WP — Tyler Duck. LP — Julian Cantu. HR — LC: Luke Chavez. 3B — LC: Garrett Newland. 2B — LC: Luke Chavez (2), Danny David Linahan, Weldon Whittle, Hunter Griffith. SA: Chris Gutierrez, Brenton Johnston. Records — Liberty Christian 19-18, St. Anthony 17-14.