Liberty High Stuns Second-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie to Return to 4A State Tournament For Second Straight Season
Your Prep Sports
Following a doubleheader sweep of rival West High on senior night nearly two weeks ago Liberty High senior Luke Ramsey felt confident the Lightning had found a spark.
Ramsey was part of a Liberty High squad that used a late-season surge a year ago to reach the state tournament for the first time in program history.
“I definitely think this is what we need to get going,” Ramsey said after the June 30 sweep of West High. “Last year we came up short of our goal and this year I feel like these two games are going to help us get on track and finish what we didn’t complete last year.”
It turns out Ramsey was right.
For the second consecutive season Liberty High has hit stride in the postseason and is headed to the state tournament for the second year in a row following a 6-2 upset of second-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie (33-7) on Wednesday in the Class 4A, Substate 2 title game in Cedar Rapids.
With the win on Wednesday Liberty High (23-17) has won five straight and seven of its last eight games and will make its second ever appearance at the state tournament when it plays in a 4A quarterfinal on Tuesday at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
Liberty High overcame an early 2-0 deficit with four runs in the fifth inning and never looked back while avenging a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Hawks last month.
Cedar Rapids Prairie won games 5-0 and 6-3 over the Lightning on June 5 in North Liberty but the Lightning had the answer on Wednesday.
Sophomore Mason Waterbury threw four strong innings and Jackson Tubbs and Owen Norris combined for three scoreless innings of relief as Liberty High scored six unanswered runs.
The big inning for the Lightning was the fifth.
Luke Mayer led off with a single and Braden O’Connor drew a walk.
A Jackson Khamphilanouvong double got the Lightning on the board and Ryan Schmierer gave Liberty High a 3-2 lead with a two-run, two-out double that scored O’Connor and Khamphilanouvong.
Ramsey added an RBI single to plate Schmierer in the four-run Lightning fifth.
Liberty High added two insurance runs in the seventh when Schmierer reached on a bunt single and scored on a Ramsey triple.
Cooper Hughes followed with an RBI single to score Ramsey.
That was more than enough for the Liberty High bullpen.
Tubbs allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings of relief and Norris struck out one in a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
Waterbury allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits while striking out five in four innings.
Ramsey went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored and Schmierer went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.
Hughes had a hit and drove in a run and Khamphilanouvong doubled and drove in a run.
Mayer had a hit and scored a run, Mason Gardner doubled and O’Connor scored a run for the Lightning.
Liberty High 000 040 2 – 6 8 1
CR Prairie 010 100 x – 2 8 0
W – Mason Waterbury L – Maddux Frese SV – Owen Norris
2B – ICL: Jackson Khamphilanouvong, Ryan Schmierer, Mason Gardner
3B – ICL: Luke Ramsey