ROCKINGHAM — A late-game push by the Richmond Raider baseball team wasn’t enough to get the job done against Lee County High School on Wednesday.
Playing their second game in back-to-back nights entering spring break, the Raiders suffered an 8-5 loss.
It was the team’s first series loss against a Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent this spring.
Despite holding a 3-1 lead after the first inning, the Raiders allowed seven unanswered runs by the Yellow Jackets (13-3, 6-2 SAC) before tacking on two runs later in the game.
“We swung the bat really well in the early part of the game and had some good at-bats in the first inning,” head coach Rob Ransom said. “And then we didn’t continue with that momentum.
“(Presley Patterson) settled down and he made pitches to where we weren’t able to get base runners when we needed to and the hits behind them,” he added of Lee County’s starting pitcher.
Junior James Eason started for the Raiders on the mound, pitching 4.0 innings. He allowed eight runs (two earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts.
Senior Ethan Locklear tossed 3.0 innings of relief for Richmond, surrendering just one hit while punching out six batters.
Opposite of Eason, Patterson threw a complete game. He gave up five runs (two earned) on six hits.
Trailing 1-0 to start the bottom of the first, the Raiders plated three runs with two outs. Eason drew a walk and scored when junior Isaac Hinshaw connected on a single to center, racing in from third following an error on the same play.
Hinshaw moved to second on the error and senior Ashton Phifer also reached safely via a miscue on the right side of the infield. Phifer stole second to put two runners in scoring position for sophomore Mason Murray.
Grounding a ball to second base, Murray hustled to first for an infield single, registering two RBI. Hinshaw scored easily and Phifer used his speed to score from second on the throw to make it 3-1.
Lee County got a run back in the top of the second before using an error, two RBI singles and a two-RBI double to plate six runs in the third.
Richmond’s next run scored in the bottom of the fifth when Phifer roped an RBI double to center. Scoring from third was junior Javian Drake, who reached safely on a fielder’s choice.
Trying to rally in the home half of the seventh, junior Camron Seagraves (dropped third strike) made a smart base running play on a foul out along the third base line.
Seagraves stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and took advantage of no one covering home when Hinshaw skied out in front of the Richmond dugout. Tagging up, Seagraves beat a host of Yellow Jackets to the plate to make it an 8-5 deficit.
The rally continued with a Phifer single, but the late-game surge ended when Patterson recorded his sixth and final strikeout.
Phifer’s two hits were a team-high, while Murray’s two RBI also led the team. Hinshaw, Murray, Ethan Clayton and Landon Taylor each had a hit, while Hinshaw and Phifer drove in one run apiece.
“We didn’t make plays in the third inning and they hung up the six-spot,” Ransom explained. “We don’t catch the fly ball, we make a pickoff move and throw it away. Just a couple of mistakes that compounded.
“If you take that inning off the board, it’s a different game. But that’s baseball, you don’t get to pick and choose your innings.”
The Raiders (10-5, 6-4 SAC) will play in a spring break tournament at Terry Sanford High School in the coming week.
Depending on the weather, the first game against Wayne Country Day School could be Saturday or Monday. First pitch will be at 4 p.m.