CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Riverside coach Chris Hawkins called Thursday's game at Capital a "middle game," meaning it wasn't a probable win or a loss, but a game in which the Warriors would have to battle tooth and nail to get a win.
In all actuality, it was a game Riverside - which took a big step forward last year with a winning season and a regional championship game appearance - couldn't afford to lose.
Riverside got the battle Hawkins expected and, despite booting the ball around a few times, the Warriors (6-5) got the win they needed with a 7-6 victory over the Cougars.
After Capital had brought in two runs and loaded the bases without a hit thanks to a pair of walks, a hit batter and two errors in the seventh inning, reliever Tyler Hall struck out Kavin Kincaid looking to end the drama.
"We tell our kids, 'You're going to lose one-third of your games, you're going to win one-third of your games, but what's important is what you do with that other one-third,' " Hawkins said. "This is one of those games that's categorized in that other one-third games.
"Being able to come out and just find a way to get it done is important."
Capital (5-9) has been looking for a way to get it done more consistently all year. The Cougars have lost six games decided by one run and Capital doesn't have a single senior on its roster.
But junior right-hander Austin Hupp put the Cougars in position by battling through seven innings and giving up 12 hits while his defense made four costly errors.
Mostly, Hupp had Riverside hitters driving the ball straight into the ground, and for a relief pitcher making his first start of the season, he more than held his own.
"Austin Hupp gave one of the gutsiest performances I have had up here in seven years," Capital coach Robert Massey said. "You've got to say it for the kid. I looked at him and said, 'Buddy, we don't have anybody else - it's you or nothing.' He gave us everything he had."
Early, it seemed like Hupp's effort would be enough.
Capital had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 while Riverside's bats searched for a spark.
That spark came off the bench in the form of junior Cameron Green, who came in for center fielder Charles Roy with the Warriors down 3-2 in the fifth inning.