Home Local Sports No. 15 Raiders exit 4A East playoffs in second round

No. 15 Raiders exit 4A East playoffs in second round

Head coach Rob Ransom meets with players on the mound during the third inning of Thursday's playoff game.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

SOUTHERN PINES — A hopeful deep run through the NCHSAA 4A East state playoffs came to an end in the second round for the No. 15 Richmond Raider baseball team on Thursday.

Two nights after holding on in the first round, the Raiders fell to No. 2 Pinecrest High School 11-0 in five innings.

In what was the fourth meeting between Richmond and the Patriots this spring, Pinecrest used an eight-run bottom of the third inning lead to break the game open.

“We looked like we were ready to play before the game and our guys played great defensively early on,” head coach Rob Ransom said. “I thought Colin (Wheeler) pitched decent, but Pinecrest swung the bat tonight.

“They got hits when they needed them, got runners on and cashed in to take advantage,” he added. “That was the story of the game. Colby (Wallce) was tough on the mound with 10 strikeouts against the 20 batters he faced. It’s hard to overcome that, momentum dies and we couldn’t turn it around tonight.”

The Raiders collected two hits off Wallace, who pitched a complete game. 

Senior Matthew Walker had a two-out bunt single in the first inning, and junior Ethan Locklear added a one-out base knock to center in the top of the third.

Junior Ethan Locklear takes a lead off second base during Thursday’s playoff game. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Richmond stranded five total base runners, including Walker and junior Ethan Clayton, who both drew walks. Senior Alston Johnson was hit by a pitch in the top of the fifth inning.

Pinecrest (21-5) scored a run in the first and added two runs in the second before the big third inning. 

Senior pitcher Colin Wheeler tossed 2.2 innings for Richmond, before sophomore James Eason closed out the final 1.1 innings of work. They combined to allow nine hits and struck out three batters.

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For Ransom and the Raiders, this was their first full season since he took over as head coach at the start of the 2020 campaign. 

After battling through two pandemic-shortened seasons, Ransom explained he couldn’t say enough about the team’s perseverance and dedication to getting better.

“I’m really proud of our seniors,” Ransom said. “They lost a season to COVID, then we played a short season last year. They turned the program back around after we were at a low spot after 2019 left the cupboards bare.

“Those kids grew up and this is the fruit of their labors,” he closed. “We appreciate what they’ve done and I’m proud of our senior leadership and their stick-to-itiveness. I hope the underclassmen learn from it and we get back on track next season.”

First baseman Matthew Walker, who had a hit and a walk, was one of eight seniors on this year’s team. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

The Raiders wrapped up the spring campaign with a 14-9 overall record and took fourth place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference with a 5-8 mark. Richmond earned second place in the SAC 4A standings.

The All-SAC team will be released when all 3A and 4A teams are eliminated or win the state championship. 

The Richmond Observer will release an article when that information is made available.

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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.