Friday’s River Ridge baseball showdown between Southwest County rivals Cave Spring and Hidden Valley resembled a department store grand opening.
There were a lot of giveaways. And, a late winner.
Coming back from three deficits in the game, Cave Spring managed to make their last rally the best as the Knights pulled out the 7-5 win.
Strong pitching by Cave Spring reliever Daniel Cook in the final two innings overcame an afternoon that saw numerous walks, hit batsmen, bunts and infield choppers leave the outcome up for grabs.
Hidden Valley had broken a 3-3 tie heading into the sixth and seemed ready to take control after an Austin Kirkbride walk, single by Justin Williams and bunt single by Ryan Kirkbride loaded the bases for the Titans with none out. Cook entered for the Knights and managed to stop the bleeding after an infield chopper and sacrifice fly plated two runs to put Hidden Valley up 5-3.
Cave Spring, like it had done in the third and fifth innings, rallied back in the home half of the sixth.
Caleb Pritchard opened the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Wyatt Hage singled to center, plating Pritchard, cutting the Knight deficit to one. Caleb Wentzel then drew a four-pitch walk and Knight leadoff hitter Nelson Stanley dropped down a bunt single to load the bases.
Cook helped his own cause by battling back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk that forced in the tying run. In what is a Cave Spring offensive staple, Jake Furrow laid down a perfect suicide squeeze that scored Wentzel and gave the Knights their first lead of the game at 6-5. Another bunt, misplayed by the Titans, sent the seventh Knight run across the dish.
Cook finished the deal on the mound for Cave Spring by pitching a shutout seventh to pick up the win. Hidden Valley starter Cody Boone struck out 11 batters in five innings before giving way to the Titan bullpen.
Hidden Valley had jumped on top in the top of the third with a RBI single from Jordan Culver and RBI double from Boone down the left field line.
Cave Spring scored two in its half of the third after two hit batsmen and a walk loaded the bases. That set the stage for an infield chopper that was misplayed, allowing a pair of Knight runners to score. The two teams traded runs in the fifth, setting the stage for the climatic finale.
“Good win for us,” Cave Spring head coach Ricky Lonker noted afterward. “Any win over Hidden Valley is great. We got some good pitching today and that’s big in a rivalry game.”