The second-year Tohopekaliga High baseball team, after growing pains last year as “the new school”, is looking to take that next step this season.

The Tigers (2-1) have two county wins thus far in the new season. Tuesday, they raced out to a big lead then hung on in the seventh to defeat Liberty, 8-5.

“They made it interesting,” Coach Nikko Martell said. “But we got the big hits early, which was nice to see.”

Ryan Villaman tripled in a four-run second inning, and doubled and scored in the third to make it 5-1. Yahir Ortiz added a two-run single in the fifth inning for breathing room they’d end up needing after Liberty scored four in the seventh for a mini-rally.

Villamon is batting .444 (4-for-9) in the first three games, and all the hits are for extra bases. Third baseman Javarius Magee is 4-for-10.

“Ryan’s been hitting, doing the things we need at the top of the lineup,” Martell said of Villamon, a junior in the middle of a lineup of sophomores — many who started last year as freshmen. “We had five of those guys in the lineup last year, who’ve bought in and caught up to the speed of the varsity game. They’re coming around, and it’s early in the season, but I’m interested why happens after a win like this. I want to see how they respond.”

The Tigers play at Edgewater on Friday and return to Liberty on Monday. They’ll host Gateway next Wednesday in their next home game.