Riverside's Tyler Hall (right) tags Capital's Seth Roadcap on the way to third.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Riverside coach Chris Hawkins called Thursday's game at Capital a "middle game," meaning it wasn't a probable win or a loss, but a game in which the Warriors would have to battle tooth and nail to get a win.In all actuality, it was a game Riverside - which took a big step forward last year with a winning season and a regional championship game appearance - couldn't afford to lose.Riverside got the battle Hawkins expected and, despite booting the ball around a few times, the Warriors (6-5) got the win they needed with a 7-6 victory over the Cougars.After Capital had brought in two runs and loaded the bases without a hit thanks to a pair of walks, a hit batter and two errors in the seventh inning, reliever Tyler Hall struck out Kavin Kincaid looking to end the drama.
"We tell our kids, 'You're going to lose one-third of your games, you're going to win one-third of your games, but what's important is what you do with that other one-third,' " Hawkins said. "This is one of those games that's categorized in that other one-third games."Being able to come out and just find a way to get it done is important."Capital (5-9) has been looking for a way to get it done more consistently all year. The Cougars have lost six games decided by one run and Capital doesn't have a single senior on its roster.But junior right-hander Austin Hupp put the Cougars in position by battling through seven innings and giving up 12 hits while his defense made four costly errors.Mostly, Hupp had Riverside hitters driving the ball straight into the ground, and for a relief pitcher making his first start of the season, he more than held his own."Austin Hupp gave one of the gutsiest performances I have had up here in seven years," Capital coach Robert Massey said. "You've got to say it for the kid. I looked at him and said, 'Buddy, we don't have anybody else - it's you or nothing.' He gave us everything he had."Early, it seemed like Hupp's effort would be enough.Capital had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 while Riverside's bats searched for a spark.That spark came off the bench in the form of junior Cameron Green, who came in for center fielder Charles Roy with the Warriors down 3-2 in the fifth inning.Green led off with a double deep to center that cleared Kincaid's head and later scored on an RBI double from Aaron Halstead.Halstead came in on Derik Chestnut's single and an error by Kincaid, and Riverside took the lead for good.
"He was a freshman when I took over and I think a lot of people may have passed on him," Hawkins said of Green. "But if there's any kid in this program that's worked hard and deserved a moment like that it's Cameron Green. He's by far the most coachable kid I've ever met - he's a coach's dream. He understands that when you tell him something you're not downing his abilities, you're trying to make his abilities better."Green took a more modest approach after the game."My coach had a lot of confidence in me. I just had to stay confident in myself and tried to hit the ball," Green said. "It's all about playing for the team. We're focused, we're going for the ring."Before it gets close to that goal, however, Hawkins admitted that the Warriors have some growing to do.Capital has some maturing to do as well, and Massey said growing pains are to be expected with a roster so youthful."We're very young," Massey said. "You can say whatever you want, but the kid standing up there at the plate with the last at-bat probably doesn't have arm-pit hair. He's 14 years old."
Brady Wilkinson (2-1) got the win for Riverside after throwing 62/3 innings and giving up just four Capital hits while striking out five. He was hurt by three Warriors errors.Halstead and Chaz Davis each had two hits while Drew Mack went 3 for 4 to lead Riverside's offense. Each had an RBI and Halstead and Mack both doubled.Justin Palmer had two hits for the Cougars. Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.