I didn't expect it, so when the lump formed in my throat I was taken off-guard.

As they announced my son's name and my wife and I walked out to the field, the emotions started to come to the surface.

It was senior day. The last game Alek would ever play in Columbus, Neb., and it hit me.

I didn't expect it to. In fact, I spent the couple days leading up to it wondering why I wasn't getting a little emotional.

I am usually sentimental and emotional over just about anything.

It was not Alek's last game before heading to college. There is the area tournament in South Sioux City, and we hope a berth in the state tournament. I figured the emotions would open like floodgates when the final out is squeezed in one of those tournaments.

But as Kelly and I walked out on the field and Alek marched toward us, it hit me. This was a big deal.

Alek hugged his mom, and unlike his senior day at high school baseball, I got more than a handshake.

He wrapped his arms around me in an embrace that showed me it was more than just a game to him, too.

Alek is my opposite rarely outwardly sentimental or emotional.

Even after all of the players were introduced and started to head to the dugout, Alek stood by us, taking it in for another moment.

If I told you Alek had a day to remember, it would seem too good to be true.

But he did.

In his first at-bat in the last game he'll play in Columbus, he homered.

He added another hit, and in typical Alek fashioned, walked three times and was hit by a pitch.

Since Alek's sophomore year, the other dads and I have joked that it is not an official game until he gets hit by a pitch. I think he has led the team in that category every year since he was a freshman.

So it went. On a day that started with a few lumps in throats and a few tears, it ended just as we hoped it would.

The home team won, the parents can be proud of their sons, and the sons got one final moment in the sun.

But there is still one big hurdle to get over.

The final game is going to be a doozy.

Right now I cannot even imagine what that will be like.

For the past three years I have been watching parents react to their sons' final game for Columbus.

It's included a few handshakes by some, crying by others and a full-blown, downpour of tears by moms as if their sons were going off to war.

I'm sure I'll have to wander off and have a few moments to myself to reflect on all these years and all these games; the highs and lows, and how great it has been to watch Alek develop over the years.

From the kid who started playing baseball in Kansas in a pitching-machine league, to the young man who will head off to college in less than a month, it has been a joy to watch him.

This is not the first goodbye for the parents.

Most of these boys and families have been together since club baseball, and it was tough when that ended.

You spend so much time with these other moms and dads that there is a bond that forms. Years from now we'll cross paths, get caught up with how everyone's doing and undoubtedly, the conversation will drift back to the ball field and watching our boys.

For now there are still more memories to make, more laughs and more games.

Let's hope the end is still a few weeks away in the state tournament.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.