Home Local Sports Raiders Baseball Season Recap: 12-game winning streak highlights 2018 season

Raiders Baseball Season Recap: 12-game winning streak highlights 2018 season

Richmond head coach Ricky Young (center) said 2018 was a "good season" for him and his players.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar.

ROCKINGHAM – Before the 2018 season began, Richmond Raider head baseball coach Ricky Young said his team’s mantra would be great pitching, solid defense and an offense that would be able to scratch out enough runs to win the game, and in their wins that’s exactly what he got.

The longest string of wins this season obviously came during the Raiders’ 12-game winning streak which started at the end of March against Hartsville High School and ended after beating conference rival Scotland High School in eight innings. In the middle of that was Richmond’s run in winning the Seahawk Invitational in Hilton Head, South Carolina, during Spring Break.

“It was a good atmosphere with this team. We put together the 12-game winning streak,” Young said about the positives of the season. “We were able to avoid the big inning that would sink us in the losses. I really enjoyed this season. Winning the tournament down in Hilton Head was a big moment, too.”

The great pitching part of the mantra Young was looking for definitely came through this year with senior Jonathan Lee throwing a perfect game against Hoke County High School, fellow seniors Trey Watkins and Drew Loving combining for a no-hitter in mid-April over Lumberton and Cam Carraway and Justin Ingram joining Watkins a week later to throw a third no-hitter for Richmond against Seventy-First High School.

Richmond’s winning streak would come to an end on senior night on the last regular season game of the year against the Fighting Scots in a hard-fought game that saw Lee get thrown out for arguing with a Scotland player in a bang-bang play at first base. Lee would miss the first game of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament game, which Richmond lost to Purnell Swett, and the first game of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs, which Richmond won 8-2 over Davie County.

Richmond’s season would come to end three days later at the hands of East Forsyth High School in the second round of the state playoffs, but the Raiders would end with an 18-8 overall record and 9-5 in the SAC.

Young has preached the philosophy of pitching, defense and timely hitting, saying it’s what he “believes in.”

“I think you’ve got to play good defense, throw strikes and execute offensively,” he said. “Put pressure on people and make them make plays. In high school, anytime you can put pressure on people it works towards your advantage.” 

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Looking forward, the Raiders will be losing nine seniors, including their top three starting pitchers in Watkins, Lee and Loving, but Young said one thing they have coming back is experience all around.

“One good thing (about next season) is the majority of the guys coming back got a lot of valuable experience this year,” said Young. “We can put a lineup out that got experience this year, but replacing those innings on the mound, our top three pitchers, that’s going to  be our biggest question mark for next year.”

In Richmond’s eight losses this past season, the vast majority of those came from mistakes in the field, including a few games where the Raiders had more than three errors in one matchup. Young acknowledged that, and said that’s an area the team will need to improve upon for next year.

“We’ve got to stay away from that big defensive mistake,” the coach said. “The majority of our losses, they can be pinpointed to one inning where we lost focus defensively. We had some lapses on defense that ended up costing us the game.”

Regardless, Young said he enjoyed a lot of moments from this season, especially the guys he’s going to be losing to graduation in a few weeks.

“Those guys, our seniors, all of our seniors worked really hard this year, on and off the field,” he said. “They worked hard in the weight room, created a good culture and I’m going miss each one of them.

“I enjoyed the year. I enjoyed going to practice every day,” Young went on to say. “They work hard every day. They wanted to get better. We didn’t reach our goals of winning the conference or competing for a state championship, but at the same time, the guys learned some valuable life lessons. We had some moments that all of us really enjoyed. Even though we may not have reached some of the loftier goals, they learned some of the things we try to teach them about life. It was a good season for us.”