Some late-inning clutch hitting and pitching from Kade Durnin proved to be the difference for Camdenton in their 2-1 walk-off win at home over Hillcrest Tuesday, May 3.
The Lakers’ (19-6) cleanup hitter drove in both of his team’s two runs, first tying the game at one run in the bottom of the sixth and then again in the ninth, singling to drive in Jackson Basham for the game winning run. Kade also picked up the win after coming on in relief of the Lakers’ starting pitcher Noah Normand with two outs in the eighth inning and retired all four batters he faced. Though he was handed a no-decision, Normand continued his strong season by holding Hillcrest to one run over seven and two-thirds and pitching into extra innings.
Hillcrest scored their lone run after a double and a throwing error put the Hornets’ leadoff man on third in the second inning and although Normand got the next batter out on strikes, he gave up a single that allowed the runner on third to score and handed Hillcrest an early 1-0 lead. Normand limited the damage and got out of the inning without allowing any further scoring.
The Lakers’ starting pitcher continued to deal and keep Hillcrest quiet, but Camdenton’s bats were kept similarly silent through the first five innings. More often than not the Lakers found themselves making good contact and putting the ball in play, but their batted balls seemed to almost always end up flying directly toward one of the Hornets for a routine out.
With time running out, they finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth when Conner Miller singled with one out and narrowly beat the throw from the catcher to steal second base, setting up Kade’s RBI single to score Miller from second and tie things up 1-1. Cole Hilton followed up with another single to put two men on with one out, giving the Lakers a chance to take the lead and win it in the seventh, but Hillcrest’s starter worked his way out of the jam and struck out the next two Lakers to send the game to the seventh.
After Normand retired the Hornets in order in the top of the seventh, the Lakers threatened again in the bottom of the inning. Karson Durnin doubled with one out to put the winning run in scoring position and advanced to third when Basham reached on an error. Kam Durnin walked to load the bases, but the Hornets again ended a Camdenton rally with a strikeout and a flyout, taking the game to extra innings.
Following a quiet eighth, the Lakers returned to the plate with another chance to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth. Karson led the inning off with a groundout, but Basham singled to shallow center field and stole his second base of the afternoon to again put the winning run in scoring position. Kam was then intentionally walked, bringing up Miller with two on and one out. Miller fouled off a couple of pitches before hitting a pop up to right field that the Hillcrest second basemen caught for the second out. Kade then came to the plate and, swinging on the first pitch, hit a hard ground ball through the hole on the right side of the infield. Running on contact, Basham raced home from second and easily beat the throw to the plate to score the winning run and defeat the Hornets 2-1.
In addition to recording the walk-off hit, Kade finished the game for the Lakers on the mound and earned the win after making quick work of the four batters he faced. At the plate he went 2-5, with two RBIs. For the Lakers’ starting pitcher, Normand finished his start going seven and two-thirds, allowing one run on five hits and one walk, and striking out eight.
Other notable performances against Hillcrest included Kam Durnin, who went 2-3 with two doubles and two walks; Basham, who has yet to strikeout this season, went 1-5 at the top of the lineup with two stolen bases and scored the game winning run; and Miller, whose single and stolen base in the sixth started his team’s game-tying rally and allowed him to score Camdenton’s first run.
The Lakers, ranked third among Class-5 schools by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association, will play again Saturday, May 7, against Battle and St. Elizabeth in Columbia at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively.