COLUMBIA — The Hickman High School baseball team's victory over Francis Howell on Wednesday started and ended with Jared Hyler.
In the top of the first inning, Hyler fielded a dribbling ground ball to his right at first base, then turned and hurled his 5-foot-9-inch, 225-pound frame at Francis Howell's leadoff hitter for the unassisted putout.
Eight and a half innings later, he launched the first pitch he saw over the fence in left field to give the Kewpies a 4-3 walk-off win over the Vikings in extra innings.
"I wasn't trying to do anything out of my power, it just happened to go over," Hyler said. "The first pitch I liked, I knew I was going to swing at it right away."
Hyler's ninth-inning home run salvaged a game in which Hickman gave up a three-run lead and squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom of the seventh.
The victory also served as a bit of revenge for last year's game, in which Francis Howell walloped Hickman 10-0. The Vikings went on to win the Class 4 state championship.
"I just felt like we got embarrassed last year," Hickman's starting pitcher Jonathan Jones said. "I just wanted to come out and prove something, play with a chip on my shoulder."
With Hickman's defense helping him, Jones threw a career-high eight innings, allowing five hits and three runs.
The victory moves the Kewpies to 13-6 on the season and drops the Vikings to 18-7. Hickman continues its season Friday when the team travels to Troy Buchanan High School.