In one dugout were the Volcanoes, the undefeated frontrunners of the Houk League.
In the other dugout were the up-and-coming Rivercats, in second place in the league and looking to avenge an loss to the Volcanoes earlier this season.
Something had to give, and in the end it was the surging Rivercats, as the Volcanoes continued their dominance. The Volcanoes rode a strong pitching performance from Derek Clark and a five-run fourth inning to power their way to an impressive 10-5 victory June 29 at Holcom.
After the game, Volcanoes coach Ted Martinez credited his team's disciplined and focused approach for their success.
"It's all about playing quality baseball," Martinez said. "Winning is a secondary result. If we do things right, then everybody's happy."
The atmosphere was highly charged in the ballpark, and the Rivercats supporters came out in droves to support their team.
The Rivercats gave their fans something to cheer about in the top of the first inning when Joel Bonner opened the game with a single. Bonner quickly made his way around the basepaths, stealing second base, advancing to third on an errant throw and scoring on a wild pitch.
The Volcanoes infield then demonstrated one of the reasons why the team has gone undefeated - solid defense. First baseman Chris Lyons, third baseman Zack Korte and second baseman Quillan Howser all made tough plays on well-hit ground balls to retire the next three batters.
Cole Woolsey walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning for the Volcanoes and stole second base. Damion Garcia doubled to score Woolsey and advanced to third on Chris Lyons' single.
The Volcanoes then tried to execute a double steal with Lyons and Garcia. The Rivercats were having none of it, though, as catcher Bonner fired the ball to shortstop Chris Carter, who ignored Lyons and threw it right back to Bonner, stranding Garcia in no-man's-land between third base and home plate. Bonner threw to third baseman Alex Zimmerschied, who tagged Garcia for the second out of the inning.
Zimmerschied crushed a pitch to dead center field leading off the Rivercats' half of the second inning, ending up on second base with a double and later scoring on a wild pitch.
Unfazed, Clark struck out the next three Rivercats batters.
The Volcanoes loaded the bases in their half of the second inning, but Rivercats pitcher Louis Hamel corralled Howser's sharply-hit ground ball to get a forceout at home. The Rivercats escaped the inning clinging to a 2-1 lead when Zimmerschied caught Garcia's popup for the third out.
The Rivercats couldn't contain the Volcanoes in the third inning, though, as Lyons and Donald Phelps both scored to put their team up by a run. The Rivercats equalized in the top of the fourth when Taylor Zook singled and scored.
Then the Volcanoes took control of the game.
The team's big fourth inning began with a double by Tyler Kahn, who scored on Woolsey's single. Nick Wingfield, Garcia and Lyons also had hits in the inning and when it was over, the Volcanoes held a commanding 8-3 lead.
Minor drove in two more runs for the Volcanoes in the sixth inning when he singled to score Phelps and Zack Korte.
The Rivercats tried to mount a rally in the seventh against Volcanoes' closer Lyons. Mike Smith singled to score Mike Lyons, and Ryan Werner scored on a bases-loaded walk, but they could get no closer as the hard-throwing Lyons struck out Zook to end the game.
Rivercats coach Rich Werner was happy with his team's performance in the game, but said he wanted to continue to work on improving his team's "mental mistakes."
"I think our kids played well," Werner said. "It seems there's always one bad inning that gets us."
The Volcanoes improved to 10-0 with the win, and the Rivercats dropped to 9-3.