No one will proclaim a baseball champion in March, but Frontier also knew its 8-5 win at Liberty on Wednesday was no ordinary victory.
"Every time we play these guys, it's a tight game," Titans coach John Moncier said. "They're a strong club. There's a long way to go, but I think we've got to beat them to win the league. This was a big win."
Frontier (10-3, 2-0 Southwest Yosemite League) broke a 5-5 tie when Harley Lopez doubled home Harrison Smith in the top of the fifth inning. Two batters later, Caleb Hewes' suicide squeeze scored Lopez, and Kyle King was effective pitching in relief to make the lead stand up.
Then Smith got Jassen Oliver, the tying run at the plate, to ground out to end the game.
"It was a little bit like a heavyweight fight," Liberty coach Tony Mills said. "They didn't knock us out, but they TKOed us. We got the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning, and that's all you can ask for."
Smith was 3-for-3 with two doubles for Frontier, which led 4-1 early after Christian Deaton's two-run single in the second inning.
"We just tried to be patient no matter what," Smith said. "Whether we're ahead or behind, we've got to keep the same approach."
Liberty (7-5, 1-1) fought back with RBI singles from Josh Medina, who was 3-for-4, and Ross Puskarich in the bottom of the second, and the Patriots tied the game on Hanz Harker's two-run single in the fourth.
"Both teams are really good hitting teams, so we knew they'd score their runs," Moncier said. "It was a see-saw battle, but we knew we could score some more runs if we ever shut them down."
That task fell to King (3-1), who relieved starter Monty Stevens and gave up the tying single to Harker but then escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and didn't allow a hit in the fifth or sixth.
"Monty wasn't sharp, and we had to get him out of there," Moncier said. "Kyle King came in and changed the momentum for us."
Liberty struck out eight times, committed three errors and had a runner called out because of batter's interference.
"We've gotta figure it out," Mills said. "Frontier is a good ballclub, and we didn't do the little things today. We made errors, we took called third strikes. That's not the way we want to play."
Frontier is now tied with Stockdale (2-0) atop the SWYL. There are 13 games left, and the Titans still have three games with the Mustangs and two more with Liberty.
But that doesn't mean they're not happy with a hot start.
"We have a really great team," Smith said. "If we click like we did today, good things are going to happen to us this year."