ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Senior High School junior varsity baseball team opened its season with a non-conference win on Thursday.
Using a trio of pitchers and a three-hit, three-RBI performance from freshman Jake Veach, the JV Raiders defeated Purnell Swett High School 9-3.
Sophomore Riley Brown got the nod on the mound to start the season and threw 4.0 innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out three batters.
Fellow sophomore Allen Taylor tossed 2.0 innings of relief, giving up a run and striking out three.
Closing it out was freshman Evan Hodges, who struck out four batters in the final inning, including one where the batter reached on a dropped third strike.
“Riley did a great job of setting the tone on the mound and giving us a quality start,” head coach Ryan Mercer said. “Allen came in and gave us two innings, we turned it over to Evan for the seventh and he came in and pounded the strike zone and closed it out.
“There are definitely a couple areas we need to improve on, especially with runners in scoring position.”
Richmond scored three runs in the second, another in the third and broke it open with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. The JV Rams recorded solo runs in the third, fourth and sixth frames.
Brown threw a 1-2-3 top of the first and faced four batters in the second, using a double play and a ground out to eliminate a leadoff single.
Helping his own cause, Brown hit an RBI single to left field with no outs in the second, plating sophomore Brooks Calhoun (hit-by-pitch). With the bases loaded, sophomore Jabari Douglas grounded out to second, but collected an RBI when Brown scored to make it 2-0.
In the next at-bat, freshman C.J. Jenkins made it a three-run lead with a fielder’s choice to short, bringing in Taylor (walk).
An RBI single in the top of the third got the JV Rams on the board, but the inning ended when Taylor and Hodges teamed up to get a base runner out between second and third.
Veach got his night at the plate started in the home half, connecting on an RBI single to center field, scoring Taylor (single).
A Richmond error allowed another run for Purnell Swett in fourth, and a wild pitch in the top of the sixth accounted for the JV Rams’ final run.
Batting around the order in the bottom of the sixth, Jenkins (walk) scored the first run on a wild pitch. Sophomore Jason Walker (hit-by-pitch) scored when Calhoun drew a bases-loaded free pass and Hodges (walk) scored on a Brown fielder’s choice.
With two away, Veach capped the scoring with a two-RBI single back up the middle, plating Calhoun and Brown.
Brown, Taylor and Walker each had a single in the win, while Brown added two RBIs. Tallying one RBI apiece were Calhoun, Douglas and Jenkins.
“I was happy with the discipline we showed and taking advantage of free bases,” Mercer closed. “Any time you can start 1-0 against a quality opponent, you take it. I like the fight in this group and can’t wait to battle with them this season.”
The JV Raiders (1-0) will open Sandhills Athletic Conference play on Tuesday at Southern Lee High School, starting at 4 p.m.