HILTON HEAD, S.C. – Coming off its most impressive performance of the season, which included a Jonathan Lee perfect game against Hoke County last Thursday, the Richmond Raiders baseball team worked some two-out magic several times in the opening round of the Seahawk Invitational Monday.
The Raiders, who are currently on a three-game winning streak, defeated host Hilton Head High School 4-2 behind clutch hitting in key situations and a dual-effort on the mound by starting pitcher Hunter Parris and reliever Drew Grant. Monday’s meeting was the first between the two schools since 2013, which Richmond won 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel between Jake Kizer (HH) and Nic Bullard (Richmond), who one-hit the Seahawks.
“It was a good win for us today,” head coach Ricky Young said following the victory. “Today was a long day on the road, and we checked into our hotel and went straight to the field to warm up. That’s why we were a little sluggish early. But we got our bats going.”
Both teams got off to a slow start, and Richmond didn’t get its first hit of the game until there were two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Alex Anderson squared up and laid a perfectly placed bunt to beat the throw to first from third baseman Matt MeBane. After Anderson stole second base, UNCP commit Lee jacked a two-run homer over the left field fence in the next at-bat to put Richmond on the board.
Hilton Head pitcher JR Richardson hadn’t allowed a home run this season before Lee’s dinger (his second of the year for Richmond).
Richmond’s two-out rally continued after the long ball, as Gordon Pill smoked a double to center field. Jahan Jones entered as a courtesy runner for Pihl, and Jake Ransom delivered on an 0-1 count with an RBI-single to score the third two-out run of the inning.
But MeBane and the Seahawks were quick to answer in the top half of the fourth inning, when MeBane hit a solo shot off of Parris to cut the lead to 3-1. The Seahawks continued to threaten in the inning after an error by third baseman Tyler Bass, but Parris remained composed and picked off a baserunner trying to take second base.
Bass made up for his error in the top of the fourth inning, as he singled with two outs. His hit would spark another two-out scoring rally for the Raiders as Justin Ingram dug into the box and drilled a double to the center field wall, scoring Bass easily from first to put Richmond up 4-1.
That would be the end of the Raiders’ scoring for the ball game, and Parris and Grant would combine to shut down the Seahawks at the plate. Hilton Head made things interesting and inched closer thanks to a Dean Seelbach RBI-single with one out in the fourth inning, which scored Noah Wilson to cut the lead in half.
A single in the next at-bat made head coach Ricky Young go to his bullpen, and called on Grant to come in and close the game. Grant ended the threat by picking off Seelbach and getting Cole DeMarzo to strike out swinging.
Parris finished the night pitching 4.1 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run to the Seahawks. Grant tossed 2.2 innings and closed the deal down the stretch, giving up just one hit and one walk. Both Raiders’ hurlers had four strikeouts on the night.
Grant worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth inning after giving up a leadoff double to Cody Wan and intentionally walking MeBane. But a 4-6 fielder’s choice and two strike outs ended the looming scoring threat. Down the stretch, Grant worked lights out, getting Hilton Head’s batters down in order in the top of the seventh inning to end the game.
“The key to tonight’s game was our pitching,” Young explained. “Hunter pitched well early and Drew finished it for us. They were both able to limit the damage and get big outs with runners in scoring position. I’m happy with the way they pitched tonight.”
Richmond (8-5) will continue bracket play Tuesday in the second round of the Seahawk Invitational. They’ll face Chapman High School (Inman, S.C., 8-2), with first pitch set for 2:30 p.m.