HAZELWOOD WEST HIGH SCHOOL -- Just about every time one of the teams from Pattonville High squares off against one of the teams from Hazelwood West -- no matter what the sport -- there's a pretty good chance the result is going to be some kind of dynamite athletic competition, that won't be decided until the game's final moments.
That's what happened when the Pirates and Wildcats met in boys and girls basketball, football, soccer, and swimming this year.
So it should be no surprise that on Thursday afternoon, at West's Beckemeier Baseball Field, Pattonville and Hazelwood West waged another fantastic battle in their longtime athletic rivalry.
And this time, it was the Pirates who came out on top, claiming a nine-inning, 5-4 victory over the Wildcats, in a matchup of teams battling for first place in the Suburban North Conference.
"That was a great high school baseball game," Pattonville head coach Mark Hahn said. "I thought both teams played well. Both teams made some unbelievable plays, and both teams played hard. We're excited that we were able to pull this one out."
The Pirates are probably a bit exhausted too, as they had to put in a lot of extra work to get themselves a victory on Thursday.
The game went two extra innings, with both teams having chances to win it in either of the extra frames.
Hazelwood West had a magnificent chance in the eighth inning, when it put runners on first and third with only one out.
But a screaming line drive off the bat of senior Aaron Lohman somehow found the glove of Pirate third baseman Carter Hanford, who snagged the ball on the fly, then raced over and tagged third before the West runner could get back to end the inning.
"We saw just about everything that could happen in a high school game happen today," Hazelwood West head coach Matt McClellan said. "That was a great play that kid made, and it was just one of a bunch of great plays both teams made out here today."
The sudden turn of events that somehow kept Pattonville in the game, turned into the actual lead for the Pirates in the ninth, when senior Matt Wilkes drove a two-out, two-strike fastball from West's Devin Williams to the wall in right-center that scored teammate Mike Monolo and gave his club its 5-4 lead.
West had a chance to tie in the bottom of the ninth, when junior Teddy Molinari reached second on a hit that was misplayed by the Pattonville outfield.
But Pattonville junior Cory Lubinski was able to still secure the win, by getting a couple of soft fly balls to end the game.
"(Lubinski) really stepped up for us today," Hahn said. "And we needed him to. This was a big win for us."
Lubinski took over in relief in the seventh inning, while West's Williams came in to relieve teammate Brendan Fosdick, who left the game in the fourth inning with a back injury.
Pattonville led 3-1 at that time, and managed to get another run off Williams in the fifth, to make it 4-1, before Hazelwood West began to mount its comeback.
In the bottom half of the fifth, West seniors Joe McCune and Matt Leinberger smacked a pair of doubles to produce a run -- just as they had in the bottom of the first -- to account for the Wildcats first two runs.
Then in the sixth, junior Jared Fosdick doubled home teammate Connor Manis, then scored to make it 4-4, on a bizarre play, in which Lohman reached safely when the ball popped out of the Pattonville first baseman's glove on a seemingly simple tag play.
Everyone at Beckemeier Field was confused following the play, but one thing was certain, the game was tied, and probably headed to extra innings.
"It's always like that when (Pattonville) plays Hazelwood West," Hahn said. "We're two teams that have great winning traditions. They have a great program. We think we have a great program. And every year, it's like this. We're always battling to see who's on top."
Thursday's victory means Pattonville is on top of the Suburban North right now.
The Pirates are 6-1 overall this season, and 5-0 in league play, while West is 7-4 overall and 5-1 in conference games.
"There's still a long way to go," Hahn said. "I'm sure it'll be another tough game when we play them again later this year."
That matchup is set for the regular season finale on May 8, at Pattonville High.
For now, both clubs will get ready for a busy slate of games next week.
The Pirates have four games scheduled, with a home game against Ft. Zumwalt West on Monday, a doubleheader against Riverview Gardens on Tuesday, and a road game at Hazelwood East on Thursday.
West will play a road game at Ritenour on Tuesday, and back-to-back home games on Wednesday and Thursday, against Ft. Zumwalt West and McCluer.
Each of those games is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.