Twenty minutes into King’s last regular-season game, senior Brandon Caples had nearly given up as many earned runs (four) in the first inning as he had the rest of the season (five). So, as the righty took a seat in the dugout mid-inning he said he wasn’t quite sure how he’d react.
Fortunately for Caples, his reaction was bolstered by the hunger of his team’s offense, as the Lions capitalized on Hillsborough miscues in the first to even things before unloading in the second inning to top the Terriers 15-5 in five innings and earn King its first regular season with 20 wins.
“It made a world of difference, and the whole mood changed,” Caples said. “I wasn’t really feeling it the first inning, but after my team helped me out and scored those runs, that was it, I was ready to get out there.”
King (20-3) reached the 20-win mark in 2003, but the total included postseason play. The Lions hold the top seed in next week’s Class 6A-District 11 tournament.
Hillsborough’s (17-6) four-run first inning was highlighted by a two-run Garrett Vess single, and he scored before Caples could end the inning. The Terriers added an unearned run in the third, but Caples (8-0) was solid after his first frame, striking out five, before Drew Grubb and Taylor Jenkins combined for a 1-2-3 final inning.
The Lions’ half of the first featured just one hit, a Tanner Williams single. But a pair of walks, a hit batter, two errors and a sac fly allowed King to even the game. The second inning however, featured a healthy dose of the Lions offense, as nine hits produced eight runs and put the game out of reach. The top three batters for the Lions went a combined 8-for-11, with two doubles, seven runs scored and five RBIs.