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Eason’s strong outing, big 4th inning pave way to series sweep of Union Pines

ROSports File Photo: Junior James Eason pitched 6.1 innings and added an RBI in Thursday's victory. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

CAMERON — A pivotal Sandhills Athletic Conference series sweep came to fruition for the Richmond Raider baseball team on Thursday.

Closing the door on the two-game set against Union Pines High School, the Raiders used a five-run fourth inning to earn a 9-3 victory. It was the Raiders’ second straight series sweep against SAC opponents.

Another strong start, this time by junior James Eason, yielded 6.1 innings of work. He allowed eight hits and gave up just three runs (one earned), while striking out seven batters. 

Eason, who reached the pitch count early in the seventh, retired the Vikings in order in the second and fourth innings, getting help from junior catcher Cain Hunsucker, who snagged a runner trying to take second.

Helping himself defensively in the bottom of the third, Eason picked off a runner at first to end the frame.

Inheriting a runner on first with one out in the seventh, senior Ethan Locklear pitched 0.2 innings to close it out. Each of his recorded outs were strikeouts.

Both teams scored a run in the first inning, starting with the Raiders in the top half. Junior Camron Seagraves led off with a single against starter Mayson Dear (3.2 innings, 6 hits, 6 runs) to right field.

Moving to third on an error, Seagraves scored when senior Ethan Clayton (error) swiped second.

The Vikings answered to tie it 1-1 as a result of a throwing error in the home half.

Trading scoreless second and third innings, the Raiders broke it open in the top of the fourth by sending nine batters to the plate. Senior Ashton Phifer led off with a double to right field, one of nine hits by Richmond.

In the next at-bat, sophomore Mason Murray traded places with Phifer, roping an RBI double down the right field line to make it 2-1.

Three batters later, Hunsucker recorded an RBI single to center, bringing in Murray and moving Locklear (walk) to third. A wild pitch by Dear and a passed ball gave way to Locklear and sophomore Landon Taylor (courtesy runner) to score and make it a four-run lead.

With two away, Eason ended Dear’s outing with an RBI single on a line drive back up the middle to score Seagraves (dropped third strike).

Eason pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half of the fourth, collecting three straight groundouts, including two back to the mound. Richmond loaded the bases in the fifth, but stranded all three runners.

The Vikings (6-8, 2-4 SAC) scored a run in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of a Chandler Ring RBI single.

Adding three insurance runs in the top of the seventh, the Raiders sent eight more batters to the plate against relief pitcher Grey Withrow (3.0 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs). With two outs, Phifer (single) scored on a double steal when Locklear stole second.


Seagraves found the gap in the next at-bat for a two-RBI double, recording his game-high second and third RBIs. Racing home were Locklear and courtesy runner Allen Taylor (running for Hunsucker, hit-by-pitch).

Union Pines added a run in the bottom of the seventh when Austin Mooring hit an RBI base knock to center. The game ended in the next at-bat when Locklear struck out Hunter Meeds.

Murray, Phifer and Seagraves each had two hits, while Eason, Hunsucker and Murray all had one run driven in.

Richmond (10-3, 6-2 SAC), which is currently third in the SAC standings, will have another crucial two-game series next week against second-place Lee County High School (10-2, 4-1 SAC).

The Raiders will travel on Tuesday and host the Yellow Jackets on Thursday. Both game times are slated for a 7 p.m. start.

JV Raiders also sweep Union Pines

Playing at home on Thursday, the Richmond junior varsity baseball team completed the sweep of Union Pines with a 4-2 victory.

Sophomore Jeremiah Ritter pitched 5.2 innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) on two hits and six strikeouts.

Fellow sophomore Jason Walker closed the final 1.1 innings, surrendering no runs or hits with three punchouts.

The JV Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when sophomore Riley Brown (walk) scored on an error. 

Two runs in the bottom of the third made it a 3-1 lead. Sophomore Brooks Calhoun recorded an RBI with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring freshman Evan Hodges (single).

A double steal resulted in the second run of the frame, as Ritter (single) stole home when Walker took off for second.

Adding an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, an error on a Calhoun grounder allowed Ritter (walk) to score.

The JV Raiders (8-2, 6-1 SAC) will host Lee County High School on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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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.