Home Local Sports JV Renegades fall in weather-shortened season opener

JV Renegades fall in weather-shortened season opener

Rising freshman Jason Gainey makes a jumping catch in center field during the third inning of Thursday's game. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — Nearly four complete innings were played in Thursday’s season opener before lightning and the threat of severe weather ended it early.

The Richmond junior varsity Renegade baseball team made its long-awaited Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League debut against Pinecrest High School.

Trailing 1-0 with one out in the bottom of the fourth, the JV Renegades recorded a loss to start the summer.

Head coach Ryan Mercer said both coaches agreed to finalize the game instead of postponing it and finishing it at a later date.

Richmond sent rising sophomore Allen Taylor to the mound to start the game, and he allowed one earned run on two hits through 2.0 innings. He also struck out three batters.

Pinecrest scored the game’s lone run in the top of the first inning. A leadoff walk and a hit-by-pitch put two runners on, and two batters later, an RBI single to left field plated the run.

Taylor worked his way out of the early threat and stranded two runners on base.

Richmond was able to get a runner into scoring position in the bottom half, but failed to score. Rising sophomore Brooks Calhoun drew a two-out walk and advanced to third when an errant pickoff attempt trickled down the right field line.

Coach Ryan Mercer (left) fist bumps Brooks Calhoun at third base. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Taylor settled in and retired the Pines in order in the top of the second, using a pair of pop outs and a strikeout.

The JV Renegades went down in order in the home half, but rising sophomore pitcher Jason Walker returned the favor in the top of the third. He took over for Taylor and tossed 2.0 innings and gave up one hit and added three punchouts.

Rising freshman Jason Gainey made an athletic jumping catch in center field to save an extra-base hit, which was followed by a pair of Walker strikeouts.

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Richmond’s best chance to score came in the top of the third. With one out, the JV Renegades loaded the bases thanks to Gainey (error) and walks to Hayden Wheeler and Jackson Webster.

The Pines got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

Walker faced just four batters in the top of the fourth, collecting a ground out to Calhoun at first before allowing a double. But a flyout to Calhoun in foul territory and another strikeout kept the Pines from adding on.

Jason Walker fires a pitch during the third inning of Thursday’s game. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, the field was cleared after lightning flashed behind the outfield. A 20-minute delay led to both coaches calling the game.

Richmond didn’t register a hit in the loss, but Mercer said he was proud of the team’s defensive efforts and knows the offense will produce in time.

“Defensively, we played well,” Mercer said. “Brooks made two great plays at first base and Jason made a great catch in center. And those were really the only balls put in play, which says a lot about Allen and Jason.

“This was the first time out, and I wasn’t pleased with some of our approaches at the plate,” he added. “But a lot of these guys were playing middle school ball a couple of months ago. Brooks and Garret (Mabe) made solid contact and Jason (Gainey) used his speed. There are a lot of things to build off of this summer.”

Richmond (0-1) will look to enter the win column with a road game at Union Pines High School on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

Visit the ROSports Instagram page for more photos of Thursday’s game.

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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.