Troy Paplomatas was well aware of the situation he faced when he stepped into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter Tuesday afternoon at Titan Field.
Hidden Valley had already plated six runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding 13-5 lead, and the muscular Paplomatas was called on with a runner aboard.
After working the count deep, Paplomatas connected in decisive fashion, sending a towering drive well into the cars past the right-center field fence for the two-run shot that ended the contest via the 10-run rule, giving Hidden Valley the 15-5 win over Southwest County rival Cave Spring.
The baseball part of spring sports showdown day between the Knights and Titans had been tight through the early innings, with the score tied at 4 before HIdden Valley came to bat in the bottom of the fourth.
Hayes Nelson got things going for Hidden Valley with a slicing triple into the right field corner. When Jack Moore, Nic Ratliff and Chad Frazier each followed with hits, the Titans put three runs on the scoreboad and led 7-4 after four.
Cave Spring narrowed the deficit in the top of the fifth when Griffin Stanley connected on a solo homer over the right field fence, cutting the Titan advantage to 7-5.
The bottom of the fifth proved to be the downfall for the Knights, as the Cave Spring bullpen struggled to contain the Titan bats.
Key hits in the 8-run uprising came from Joseph Bollinger’s two-run single through the right side, Louisville-signee Ryan Lauria’s two-RBI double off the center-field fence and Hunter Boone’s pinch-hit 2-run double to right-center. That set the stage for Paplomatas’ game-ending bomb that gave the concession stand little time for discount food offerings.
“I’ve never hit a walk-off homer,” a smiling Paplomatas said afterward. “I was aware that a homer would end it, and when it came off the bat I knew
it was gone. The coach gave me a chance in a big situation.”
“We played some sloppy defense early,” Hidden Valley head coach Jason Taylor noted. “But, we’ve got a lot of good pitching and have confidence in our hitting. Our top five hitters were very good today, and Boone and Troy came up with big hits at the end.”
“We’re a young team and it came down to our pitchers needing to throw strikes,” Cave Spring head coach Ricky Lonker pointed out after a lengthy team meeting.
“Walks and not executing routine plays cost us. I felt good when we got the early four runs and they had their bullpen going. Everyone on our team needs to step up.”
“Give Hidden Valley credit,” Lonker added. “They had some timely hits. We’ll regroup and be all right.”
Hidden Valley improved to 12-3; (5-0 River Ridge) with the win, while Cave Spring dropped to 5-10; 2-3.
by Bill Turner