Wednesday, 12 May 2021 00:39

Late magic sparks Raiders, Ransom to first win of season

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Freshman Camron Seagraves, who earned the win over Jack Britt, delivers a pitch in the seventh inning. Freshman Camron Seagraves, who earned the win over Jack Britt, delivers a pitch in the seventh inning. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — It may have taken the Richmond Senior High School baseball team and head coach Rob Ransom a little longer than they wanted, but the Raiders earned their first victory of the season on Tuesday.

Behind a four-pitcher performance, and a couple of breaks on the basepaths late, Richmond edged Jack Britt High School 8-7. 

It was the Raiders’ first win since May 7, 2019, a first-round playoff win over R.J. Reynolds High School. Snapping the team’s eight-game losing streak spanning the pandemic season and the start of this year, the win also marked the first victory of Ransom’s high school baseball coaching career.

“It’s a relief, a little weight off our shoulders,” Ransom said. “In the seventh inning we were really tense because until you get one under your belt, you’re waiting for something bad to happen. 

“I’m really proud of the boys for hanging in there tonight,” he added. “It was a big play by Colin (Wheeler) to throw a kid out (at second) in the seventh and Jude (Howard) got us the final out.”

Coach Rob Ransom (second from left) meets with his players in the middle innings of Tuesday’s win, his first as the Raiders’ skipper. (Kyle Pillar)

Jack Britt took a 3-0 lead after its first two innings at the plate, collecting three hits off junior starting pitcher Harley Honeycutt. In two innings of work, Honeycutt struck out five batters.

Richmond cut into the Buccaneers’ lead with an RBI single to center by junior infielder Alston Johnson off starting pitcher Zach Aranda in the home half of the second.

Junior Will Dawkins became the second Raider pitcher to take the hill, sitting Jack Britt down in order in the top of the third. That opened the door for the Raiders to bat around the order and plate five runs in the bottom of the third.

A leadoff double by junior Cameron Way and a single from junior Matthew Walker put runners at second and third with no outs. Two at-bats later, senior infielder Hunter Hancock bunted safely into a fielder’s choice, which also scored Way and Walker to tie the game at three runs.

“We come out and try to play hard every day,” Hancock explained. “This is the first win all of the seniors have been a part of and that’s special to us. 

“We made some errors, but we managed to capitalize on some of their errors, too,” he added. “This puts us on the right track, so hopefully this gives us all some confidence.”

Senior Hunter Hancock records an out at first base in the top of the seventh inning. (Kyle Pillar)

In the next at-bat, senior Michael Pettitt roped an RBI double to the gap in right-center, scoring Hancock. Back-to-back errors by Jack Britt plated two more Richmond runs before the end of the inning and Richmond held a 6-3 lead.

With two outs in the top of the fourth, a bases-loaded walk and an error with two outs let the Buccaneers equalize the score at six runs. 

Freshman pitcher Camron Seagraves, who was credited with the win, took over the bump to start the fifth inning. He allowed just one run on one hit through 2.2 innings of work, while striking out three Buccaneers.

In the top of the sixth, Jack Britt used a passed ball to regain a one-run lead, 7-6. But Richmond was quick to answer in the home half.

Johnson reached safely on a fielder’s choice, and stole second and third base with one out. Way drew a walk in the next at-bat against relief pitcher Donovan Whitfield (4 innings, 7 runs, 3 hits), and on the first pitch to Walker, Johnson tied the game on a passed ball.

With two outs, junior Colin Wheeler struck out, but the ball bounced to the backstop. That allowed him to race to first safely and for Way to score the eventual game-winning run.

“We had a couple of base running errors early in the game, and we didn’t score on the two-out hit that I thought we should have scored on (in the second),” Ransom explained. “The bunts in the third inning were huge — we put the ball in play and they made some mistakes.

“We were able to capitalize on that,” he added. “We have decent team speed, and we were finally in a position to show that. I thought we were more competitive with our at-bats tonight.”

Seagraves recorded two outs to start the top of the seventh, but an error put a runner on. That’s when Ransom called in junior pitcher Jude Howard to seal the deal.

Howard, who made his fourth appearance of the spring, took just six pitches to record the final out. He got a lazy pop up to land in Johnson’s glove at second base to end the game.

Just prior to the final out, Wheeler made a heads-up play by throwing out Ronald Logan trying to steal second base. Way was there to receive the throw and apply the tag, the second time in the game the two paired up to pick off a runner.

Junior Cameron Way (6) holds up his glove after tagging out Ronald Logan trying to steal second base in the seventh inning. (Kyle Pillar)

“I wanted to throw strikes and get the ball across the plate,” Howard explained. “I have a good defense playing behind me, despite the errors. When Alston caught the ball all I could say was ‘let’s go.’ It was awesome.

“I think we can piggyback off this and carry the momentum into Friday,” he added. “Like LBJ said, ‘yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’ We need to be able to focus on the one at hand that day.”

The Raiders collected six hits in the win, using two each from Pettitt and Way, who both had a double. Johnson and Walker added the other hits, while Johnson also had an RBI. 

Hancock had a team-high two RBIs, Pettitt and Dawkins each registered one RBI and Way and Pettitt both crossed home plate safely twice.

“Jude came in and got a big out for us when we needed it most,” Ransom said of the final play. “Will threw a good first inning, and Camron came in and gave us two good innings. He was a little loose in the seventh and I felt like Jude would give us the better opportunity.

“We’ll keep plugging away and try to get another win on Friday,” Ransom closed.

Richmond (1-4) will look for the series sweep against the Buccaneers (0-5) with a road game at Jack Britt on Friday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 May 2021 00:40
Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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