ROCKINGHAM — An intense atmosphere settled over the diamond during the series opener between the Richmond Raider baseball team and rival Scotland High School on Tuesday.
With both teams kicking off their final regular-season series, it was the Fighting Scots that got the upperhand in the middle innings as part of a 4-2 loss for Richmond.
Even on the scoreboard with five hits apiece, both teams put forth strong starting pitching performances.
Senior Ethan Locklear tossed 5.0 innings for the Raiders, allowing four earned runs on four hits, while striking out two batters. Opposite of him was Blane Wagner, who went 4.1 IP with two unearned runs on five hits.
“This was just a really good high school baseball game,” head coach Rob Ransom said. “I thought we played defense well, and our pitching was strong. We just didn’t get hits when we had base runners on. We left 10 runners on base and couldn’t cash in.
“(Scotland) got hits when they needed to and that was the difference,” he added. “We know these games are going to be very intense. The guys handled that well, but the bottom line was not getting hits when we needed to drive in runs. If we get a hit at the top of the order here or there, it’s a different game.”
Both teams stranded a runner in the first inning, and it was the Fighting Scots that struck first in the top of the second. An RBI single back up the middle with two outs by Turner Bounds made it 1-0.
The Raiders left the bases loaded in the home half, but answered an inning later to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the third.
A leadoff walk to senior Ethan Clayton saw him move to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch from Wagner.
On a lineout to first base by junior James Eason, Clayton retreated to third, but an errant throw on the double-play attempt sailed down the line, allowing Clayton to score.
Scotland used a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a fielder’s choice and a hit-by-pitch to manufacture a run in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded, Bounds lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate a run.
In the next at-bat, Eli McCoy connected for an RBI base knock to extend Scotland’s lead to 3-1.
Not going away, the Raiders used one-out singles by junior Zaviar Lowry and sophomore Landon Taylor to get two runners on. Lowry took third on another Wagner wild pitch and scored when McCoy committed an error trying to catch Lowry moving up.
Trailing 3-2, and with Taylor on second, a flyout to center field ended the inning.
The final run of the game came in the top of the fifth when Luke Taylor hit a sac fly to center field for the second out. Cadyn Graves (walk) scored on the play.
Richmond stranded two runners in the fifth and one base runner in both the sixth and seventh frames. Garrett Manning (1.2 IP) and Alex Hatcher (1.0 IP) closed the game on the mound for the Fighting Scots.
Eason relieved Locklear to start the sixth inning and allowed just one hit with no walks or runs over the final two innings.
Leading the Raiders with two hits apiece, all singles, were Lowry and Eason. Landon Taylor had Richmond’s other hit.
“Hopefully we can regroup for Thursday and be ready to play,” Ransom said of the regular-season finale.
Richmond (12-9, 6-5 SAC) is set to close its regular season on the road at Scotland (13-7, 5-6 SAC) on Thursday. The meeting between the Raiders and Fighting Scots will get underway at 7 p.m.
JV Raiders also fall to Scotland
Playing on the road at Scotland on Tuesday, the JV Raiders lost 5-2.
Richmond scored both of its runs in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead.
Sophomore Garret Mabe had an RBI double to score sophomore Jason Walker (single) and sophomore Conner Phifer traded places with Mabe in the next at-bat with an RBI double.
Scotland scored a run in both the first and second innings, two runs in the fourth and added a run in the sixth.
Sophomore Jeremiah Ritter pitched 5.2 innings before reaching the pitch count. He had eight strikeouts and allowed five runs (three earned) on four hits. Walker pitched the final out.
Phifer’s two hits led the team, as Mabe, Walker, Sam Thompson and C.J. Jenkins each had a hit.
The JV Raiders (10-3-1) will wrap up their season on Thursday at home against Scotland, starting at 5 p.m.