ROCKINGHAM — Early run support, coupled with a late-game hold on the mound, helped the Richmond Raider baseball team advance in the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday.
Hosting No. 7 Hoke County High School in the semifinal round of the consolation bracket, the No. 4 Raiders held on for a 6-5 win.
Scoring all of their runs in the first three innings, the Raiders gave junior starting pitcher James Eason a cushion to work with.
Eason pitched just three innings and threw exactly 30 pitches to keep him eligible to pitch on Thursday. He allowed one unearned run on two hits.
Head coach Rob Ransom went to freshman Evan Hodges, who made his varsity debut on the mound. Hodges tossed 2.2 innings with four runs (one earned) and three strikeouts.
Sealing the deal in the final 1.1 innings, including leaving the tying run on third base, was senior Ethan Locklear. He had one strikeout, the game’s final out.
After Eason faced just four batters and left a runner at second in the top of the first, the Raiders took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half.
With one away and the bases loaded, senior Ethan Clayton drew a walk to plate senior Ashton Phifer (single).
The other run came in the next at-bat when sophomore Mason Murray grounded into a fielder’s choice at third, paving the way home for Eason (hit-by-pitch).
A 5-4-3 inning-ending double play made quick work for Eason in the second, which led to another run for the Raiders in the bottom half.
A one-out double by Landon Taylor resulted in an RBI single from junior Camron Seagraves, who slapped a single into left field.
Hoke County (1-19) scored its first run in the third, using a pair of Richmond errors to put a runner on and score.
The Raiders’ final three runs came in the bottom of the third, starting with an RBI bunt single by Locklear. Beating the throw to first, Locklear’s hustle allowed Clayton (double) and courtesy runner Javian Drake to score.
Three batters later and with two outs, Seagraves delivered again with his second RBI of the game. This time he sent an RBI single the opposite way to right field, plating Locklear.
The Bucks registered a run in the fourth inning and three runs in the sixth before Locklear shut it down for the final four outs.
Collecting seven hits as a team, the Raiders were led by Seagraves’ two singles. Adding one hit apiece were Phifer, Clayton, Locklear, Taylor and junior Isaac Hinshaw.
Locklear and Seagraves both had two RBI, with Clayton and Murray driving in one run each.
No. 4 Richmond (13-10) will play for the consolation championship on Thursday against No. 5 Scotland (15-7), which defeated No. 6 Union Pines High School on Wednesday.
It will be the third meeting between the Raiders and Fighting Scots in the past eight days. Scotland won the previous two meetings by a combined three runs. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.