Home Local Sports Early lead undone for Raiders against East Bladen

Early lead undone for Raiders against East Bladen

ROSports File Photo: Senior Ethan Locklear had a 3-RBI double during Tuesday's tournament game. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

FAYETTEVILLE — Trying to advance to its second straight Terry Sanford Easter Invitational championship game, the Richmond Raider baseball team came up a couple of runs short on Tuesday.

A night after rallying to win in the opening round, the script flipped for the Raiders, who gave up a pair of four-run leads and fell 8-6 to East Bladen High School.

Aside from one costly inning that saw the Eagles plate five runs in the bottom of the third, Richmond otherwise controlled the game early on.

Between the third and fourth frames, Richmond allowed six unanswered runs despite limiting East Bladen to just three hits in the game.

Head coach Rob Ransom went with a revolving door of pitchers during the semifinal game, starting with freshman Caden Nolan (2.0 IP, four runs, one hit, two strikeouts).

He was followed by senior Ashton Phifer (0.1 IP, three runs), freshman Evan Hodges (1.2 IP one run, two hits, three Ks) and junior James Eason tossed the final 2.0 innings, facing just seven total batters.

As a pitching staff, the four Raiders combined to walk six batters. At the plate, Richmond struck out 10 times.

The Raiders’ bats were productive early against starter Jake Futrell (6.2 IP, six runs, five hits), plating all six of their runs between the second and third frames.

Leading off the top of the second, junior Isaac Hinshaw (dropped third strike), Phifer (single to left) and sophomore Mason Murray (single to left) loaded the bases for senior Ethan Locklear.

Facing an 0-2 count, Locklear tattooed a bases-clearing, three-RBI double to left field to give the Raiders a 3-0 lead.

After the Eagles (6-8) recorded two quick outs, junior Camron Seagraves reached on an error to second base, allowing Locklear to race home and make it a four-run advantage.


An RBI double by Lee Barnes and a passed ball got East Bladen on the board with two runs in the home half.

With two away in the top of the third, Phifer, Murray and Locklear helped extend Richmond’s lead to 6-2. 

Phifer started the rally with a double to the gap, and scored when Murray singled on a line drive to left field. Both Phifer and Murray finished the game with a team-high two hits.

Murray stole second to get into scoring position and trotted to third on a wild pitch. Locklear put the ball in play in the next at-bat, reaching on an error at third base, paving the way for Murray to score.

Phifer began the third on the hill and allowed a pair of bases-loaded walks to cut Richmond’s lead to 6-4. 

Hodges inherited a bases-loaded situation with one away, but two passed balls and an error saw the Eagles jump ahead by a run before Tyler Johnson struck out to end the threat.

Over the next four innings, the Raiders had just one base runner in the top of the fourth, which was Seagraves via a free pass. Richmond was retired in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames.

East Bladen, which will face the host Bulldogs in the championship game, scored its final run thanks to a solo home run by Zamar Lewis in the fourth.

Richmond (11-6) will round out the Easter Invitational with a game on Wednesday against Midway High School (14-3). 

First pitch between the two Raider squads is set for 1 p.m. at Terry Sanford.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.