ROCKINGHAM — The third time was the charm for the Raider baseball team on Thursday, which got over the hump and defeated Scotland High School in the consolation bracket championship of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.
Defeating the No. 5 Fighting Scots for the first time since the 2019 season, the No. 4 Raiders used a big second inning to clinch an 11-9 victory.
Erasing an early three-run deficit, Richmond plated eight runs in the second to give junior starting pitcher James Eason an early cushion.
Eason threw 6.0 innings to get the win, and allowed eight runs (six earned) on 10 hits. He also struck out four batters.
Entering the game in the seventh, freshman Caden Nolan shut the door in the final frame to earn the save. He gave up an earned run.
Scotland (15-8) got on the board in the top of the first thanks to an RBI double and a two-RBI single.
The Raiders answered by getting a run back in the home half, using an RBI single from junior Isaac Hinshaw to score fellow junior Camron Seagraves (leadoff double).
Eason faced just four batters and stranded a runner in the top of the second, giving Richmond’s bats a chance to do damage. A total of 13 batters made a trip to the plate, resulting in the eight-run inning.
Junior Zaviar Lowry, one of four Raiders to collect two runs batted in, cut the deficit to one run with one out. He sent a line drive single to center, scoring courtesy runner Javian Drake. The others to secure two RBI were Eason, Mason Murray and Ashton Phifer.
That was followed by an RBI double from Seagraves, one of his two two-baggers in the game. Giving Richmond a 4-3 lead in the next at-bat was Phifer, who laced an RBI single to right to score sophomore Landon Taylor (single).
An error by the catcher and an Eason RBI single scored Seagraves and Phifer, respectively. A double from Hinshaw and a walk to senior Ethan Clayton loaded the bases for Murray.
Roping a hard grounder into left field, Murray brought home a pair of runs to extend the lead to 8-3. That ended starting pitcher Turner Bounds’ night on the mound for Scotland (1.1 IP, nine hits, nine runs).
The Raiders scored one more run in the inning off reliever Dylan Tucker (3.2 IP, five hits, 2 runs). In his second at-bat in the inning, Lowry singled home Clayton with a line drive to right field.
Scotland scored two runs in the top of the third to cut its deficit to four runs, which included an RBI single from Jake Clemmons.
Two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth pulled the Fighting Scots to within a run, 9-8.
Adding some insurance, the Raiders plated their final two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Lowry, who had a team-high three hits, and Taylor led off the inning with back-to-back singles. With one away, a Phifer RBI single to right and an Eason RBI groundout to the right side gave the Raiders all the runs they’d need.
A leadoff hit-by-pitch in the top of the seventh resulted in Scotland’s final run on a fielder’s choice to Hinshaw at third.
Finishing the game with two hits apiece were Seagraves, Phifer, Hinshaw, Murray and Taylor. As a team, the Raiders swatted 14 hits, including four for extra bases.
The Raiders (14-10) have qualified for the NCHSAA 4A East postseason, finishing as the SAC’s 4A at-large qualifier. The NCHSAA will seed brackets on Monday, with the first round of the postseason set to start on Tuesday.
According to the NCHSAA’s most recent MaxPreps RPI rankings, the Raiders are ranked 15th in the 4A East and should host a first-round game.
The Richmond Observer will post a postseason preview and final brackets when they’re finalized.