Liberatore’s last masterpiece sends Mountain Ridge to finals

Mountain Ridge senior pitcher Matthew Liberatore tips his cap as teammates and fans applaud as he leaves the game against Mesa Mountain View May 12 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Libertatore allowed four singles and struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings as the Mountain Lions clinched a spot in the 6A title game. Libertore cannot pitch in that game due to pitch count restrictions, so this was his final appearance for Mountain Ridge. [Courtesy Mountain Ridge Baseball Facebook]

West Valley Preps

The Mountain Ridge-O’Connor baseball rivalry takes the biggest stage possible a7 p.m. Tuesday night in Tempe Diablo Stadium.

These neighboring Deer Valley district schools square off for the 6A state title. Visit today for Richard Smith’s recap.

Ace Matthew Liberatore led the Mountain Lions into the finals May 12 with a virtuoso performance in his last game as a high school pitcher.

And his team gave him breathing room against top seed Mesa Mountain View, grabbing a 3-0 lead at Diablo before the Toros came to bat thanks to a two-run double by sophomore Travis Warinner and an RBI single from senior Brock Peery.

Libertatore allowed four singles and struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings. He cannot pitch in the championship game Tuesday since he was short of the amount of rest required by pitch-count regulations.

A five-run third inning allowed the Mountain Lions to overwhelm the Toros early in the elimination game, which Mountain Ridge (21-10-1) won 9-1.

Both DVUSD teams had a chance to clinch title game berths May 11 but were extended by Mesa schools — Skyline beat O’Connor in extra innings May 11, and the Eagles responded with a 9-4 victory May 12. Mountain View locked in the rematch early Friday night, erupting for a combined six runs in the second and third innings.

The Toros held the Mountain Lions scoreless in the final six frames of their 7-1 victory.

This is the second time in three years Mountain Ridge reached the finals in the state’s large-school division — after never having reached the title game previously.

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