NEW MARTINSVILLE - After allowing a pair of first-inning runs and going down in order in the bottom of the frame, it appeared early on that Paden City might have either taken Cameron for granted or been looking ahead to a bigger fish.
At any rate, Coach Brent Croasmun's team found its bearings, led by Isaac Hall on the hill and Luke Cooper at the dish, and escaped with a five-inning victory against the Dragons.
Hall allowed four singles, three of those coming in the first inning, while fanning nine and walking two, and Cooper belted a grand slam to highlight a five-run fourth inning as the Wildcats rolled to a 12-2 victory against Cameron in a West Virginia Class A, Region One, Section Two elimination contest.
Croasmun's 12-14 record club will get a fourth crack at pulling off a victory against up-river rival Magnolia. The Blue Eagles have pulled out a pair of one-run victories against Paden City this year along with last Saturday's 10-2 thumping in a first round sectional contest.
Should the Cats get that elusive victory at 5:30 this afternoon, they will need to return and do it one more time Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Dave Cisar's club can secure yet another sectional crown with a victory today.
"They have beaten us three times, but two of them were by one run and Saturday's game we had six errors and you are not going to beat anyone doing that," Croasmun said. "And that is not very typical of us ... we have been pretty sound defensively.
"We are still kind of a young team, and I think the pressure got to us a little the last time we played them. I just hope that we have been able to up a little bit during the last few days."
It was the Dragons that looked good early on, getting a pair of singles and a stolen base with one out to plate the game's first tally and a two-out base hit to take a 2-0 lead.
But things changed suddenly in the second inning.
After back-to-back singles from Zach Heasley and Michael Wilcox to open the frame, Hall jumped on an 0-1 pitch and laced it down the right-field line for a two-run triple to knot the count.
After a strikeout, Kennedy Cain delivered a single for the go-ahead run and the Cats were rolling. Freshman Hayden Hizer also doubled in a run during the five-run blitz that made it 5-2.
Paden City added a run in the third and went back to work, pushing across five more in the fourth to push the lead to 11-2.
The inning started with a hit batsman, an error, a walk and another error for the first run, and finished with Cooper's towering grand slam over the left-field fence.
The Wildcats needed two hitters in the fifth to finish things off. Andrew Dennis singled to get it started and pinch-runner Deven Price stole second. Cain's blooper then fell in between two outfielders with Price racing home with the game-ending run.
"Isaac Hall did a real nice job of settling down after that first inning," Croasmun added. "But the story of our season has been the fact that we just don't seem to start out very well.
"We need to get in there and relax (today), because we have got to get a good start against Magnolia.
"I think we did the things we needed to do (Monday), we hit the ball well, ran the bases well, fielded well and pitched well. Overall, it was a very sound afternoon for this team."
Hall threw 19 pitches in the first inning, 20 in the second and just 33 during the final three frames in the efficient outing.