Home Local Sports Late rally comes up short as Raiders fall to Purnell Swett in...

Late rally comes up short as Raiders fall to Purnell Swett in opener

Junior Matthew Walker (8) high-fives junior Colin Wheeler (right) after Wheeler's two-run homer in Tuesday's loss.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

PEMBROKE — Richmond Raider baseball returned Tuesday at Purnell Swett High School, but too many walks cost the Raiders in a close game to start the new season.

Richmond and head coach Rob Ransom fell to the Rams 10-9, but the loss wasn’t without opportunities to score or keep Purnell Swett off the board.

The Raiders scored seven runs in the top of the fourth inning to erase a six-run deficit, but putting runners on late led to the Rams’ win. Richmond stranded six runners on base.

“We had great effort and enthusiasm,” Ransom said. “We were down 7-1 and fought back to take the lead and we put ourselves in a position to win. We just came up a little short in the end.

“There were too many walks tonight,” he added. “We put 10 guys on base, struck out 10 times at the plate and made four errors. To be in a one-run game and doing that is unfortunate.”

Junior Harley Honeycutt got the start on the mound, and gave up six earned runs on three hits and four walks in two innings. Freshman Camron Seagraves tossed 2.1 innings of relief and allowed three runs on two hits and also had four walks.

The Rams scored in each of the first three innings, including four runs in the bottom of the second, to take a 7-1 lead. Richmond’s lone run early on came when junior Alston Johnson (walk) scored on a wild pitch by Jonathon Jacobs.

Three straight walks to begin the top of the fourth inning started the seven-run rally for the Raiders. Honeycutt scored early, and senior Hunter Hancock beat out an infield single to second to plate senior Michael Pettitt (walk) to make it a 7-3 deficit.

Seagraves, who also walked, took advantage and scored on a passed ball with relief pitcher Keithyn Hunt on the mound. 

With two on and two outs, junior Matthew Walker sent a double to the right-center gap for two RBIs, driving in Hancock and Johnson (walk). 

In the next at-bat with two strikes, junior Colin Wheeler barreled up a Hunt offering and sent the ball over the center field fence for a two-run blast. That capped the inning and put the Raiders up 8-7.

“I was down 0-2 and didn’t know what I was going to get,” Wheeler explained of his homer. “I got an inside pitch that was up and I just put the barrel on it and connected.

“We were fighting hard, but we made a couple of errors in the game,” he added. “Walks and strikeouts killed our momentum, and if we cut out some of those mistakes, we’d have won the game.”

Purnell Swett tied the game with a bases-loaded walk in the home half of the inning, and took a one-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. An RBI single by William Brooks scored the Rams’ final run an inning later.

With runners on second and third with one out in the top of the seventh, Hancock recorded his second RBI of the night with a ground ball out to second, allowing Pettitt (walk) to score. But the Raiders couldn’t complete the comeback.


“Matthew had a great at-bat that changed the momentum of the game for a little bit,” Ransom said. “Colin followed that with a big home run. But after that, we coasted for a couple of innings and couldn’t tack on. We have to keep the momentum going and not get complacent.”

Juniors Jude Howard and Cameron Way also pitched for Richmond, combining to throw the final 1.2 innings. Way inherited a two-on with no outs situation in the sixth, and used a strikeout and a double play to end the frame.

“The pitching wasn’t what I expected, I thought we’d throw strikes better than that,” Ransom said. “But it’s early in the season and both teams struggled to throw strikes. I was pleased with Camron and he’ll pitch some big innings for us.

“I told the team we need to put the ball in play more,” he closed. “We can’t give them so many free outs, and we have to cut down on the errors.”

Way led the team with two hits, a pair of singles, and both Walker and Wheeler finished with one hit and two RBIs. Hancock had one of Richmond’s seven hits and also plated two runs. Seagraves and senior Tony Gathings accounted for the other two hits. 

The Raiders (0-1 SAC) will play their first home game on Friday in the second half of the season series with the Rams (1-0 SAC). First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

JV Raiders roll past Rams in season opener

Also playing Purnell Swett on Tuesday, the Richmond junior varsity baseball team won 15-1 in four innings (time limit).

Head coach Corey Wallace and the JV Raiders scored in every inning, including five runs in the second and seven runs in the fourth.

Sophomore pitcher Walker Lambeth got the win, allowing just one hit and one unearned run in three innings, while also punching out six batters. Freshman Isaac Hinshaw pitched the final inning, sitting the Rams down in order.

Lambeth was also big at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Hinshaw added two hits in his three at-bats, including one of Richmond’s six doubles, and also notched a trio of RBIs.

Freshman James Eason, who started the game with a leadoff triple, matched Lambeth’s team-leading three hits. He also had a double and an RBI. Sophomores Ethan Clayton and Bryce Goodwin, along with freshman Damon Bryant, all had doubles.

Clayton had two of Richmond’s 13 hits and also knocked in two runs. Sophomore Ashton Phifer added a triple and an RBI.

“Walker did a great job on the mound tonight and threw strikes, which is what we needed him to do,” Wallace said. “The whole team swung the bat really well and this was a great way to start our season.”

The JV Raiders (1-0) will host the Rams (0-1) on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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Kyle Pillar is a 22-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on X @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.