CAMERON, N.C. – Coming off a week-long hiatus due to the Fourth of July, the Richmond Rattlers senior baseball team picked right up where it left off, winning its sixth-straight game in impressive fashion Tuesday.
Scoring a Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League season-high 15 runs, the Rattlers mercy-ruled Union Pines 15-1 in five innings. Thanks to an offensive onslaught by his teammates, rising senior pitcher Cameron Carraway had no trouble against his opponent, and picked up his third win of the summer.
Richmond improves to 6-2 eight games into its 15-game season, and since dropping the first two games to Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina high schools, the Rattlers have outscored their opponents 37-16. In that span, Richmond hasn’t trailed by more than two runs at any point.
Tuesday’s victory came in part thanks to a high-scoring top of the first inning, which the Rattlers were able to plate eight runs before taking the field on defense. That outburst would start a revolving door of Union Pines pitchers, as the home team used four pitchers on the night.
“I thought we had a really good first inning,” head coach Ricky Young said, and who was back with the team for the first time in two weeks. “We were able to take advantage and get a couple of big hits early. It took a lot of pressure off Cameron and all he had to do was throw strikes. He still pitched really well.”
Using an 11-man lineup, the Rattlers sent 12 players to the plate in the first inning, scoring eight runs on five hits. Rising senior Alex Anderson led off the game with a double to the right-center gap, and fellow rising senior Brett Young scored him on the next pitch with an RBI single. Rising senior Jake Ransom wasted no time as he brought in Young in the next at-bat from second (Young stole the bag) for an early 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back walks to Carraway and rising senior Garet Weigman loaded the bases for rising senior Tyler Bass. The shortstop scored Ransom with a bloop RBI single when his check swing made contact with the ball and landed in shallow right field. Two batters later, with one out, rising senior Garret Richardson blasted a linedrive to the warning track, and reached safely when the center fielder dropped the ball, scoring Carraway’s courtesy runner, rising senior Jahan Jones.
The inning’s production continued in the next at-bat when rising senior Hunter Parris drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Weigman. Rising senior Evan Hudson capped off the eight-run inning with a hard grounder that made its way past the second baseman and into right field for a two-RBI base knock.
Union Pines’ only run would come in the bottom of the first, after Carraway plunked the second batter of the inning. A walk and a single in the subsequent at-bats loaded the bases, and the run scored when Carraway attempted a pickoff to second base, throwing the ball low of Bass’ glove and skipping into center field. But from there on out, the right-hander was lights out.
Carraway threw four innings and struck out eight batters on the night. He racked up two strikeouts per inning, and faced just 12 batters in innings two through four. In his final three innings of work, he allowed just three batters on base (infield single, HBP and an infield throwing error). Carraway also got some defensive help from Bass for the first out of the second inning, as Bass laid out for a diving catch up the middle.
“I’ve got pretty good velo (velocity) on my fastball this summer, and I’ve been able to use my change-up and my curveball effectively in any count,” Carraway said of his performances. “Getting eight runs in the first helps because you’ve got room to make mistakes, but it’s mostly about making adjustments.
“In the first inning, I was leaving everything up and in,” he explained. “Then I came back in the second inning by finishing and closing myself off to try and throw outside.”
Carraway also noted he “doesn’t keep track” of how many strikeouts he has during a game, but said he’s aware of when his strikeout pitches are working.
The Rattlers would go quietly in the second and third innings after the first of three Union Pines pitching changes, but added a run in the fourth inning to extend their lead to 9-1. Jones led off with single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scooted to third on an Anderson single to left. Young drew a walk to load the bases, and Ransom skyed a ball deep to left field for the inning’s first out.
After the catch, Anderson got caught in a pickle between second and third, and head’s up baserunning by Jones allowed him to sneak home while Anderson got tagged out.
In the fifth and final inning, Richmond batted through its lineup once again, this time using several pinch hitters and scored six runs. With a new pitcher on the hill, rising juniors Blake Hall and Harrison Chance, along with rising senior Logan Moore, drew walks to load the bases in the first three at-bats. Rising junior Luke Preslar kept it going with a walk of his own, allowing Mitchell Paul, who was running for Hall, to score.
Two more consecutive Rattlers walks by rising juniors Dallas Cowick and Will Chappell scored Chance and Moore to make the game 12-1. Anderson wrapped up a three-hit night with a one-out, two-RBI single to right field two at-bats later, scoring Preslar and Cowick. Young finished things off with a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Chappell for the Rattlers’ final run.
Pitching in relief, Anderson took over for Carraway on the mound in the bottom of the fifth inning. After walking the leadoff batter, Anderson sat the Union Pines batters down in order thanks to a popout to Bass, a strikeout and a fly out to Richardson in right field.
The Rattlers compiled nine hits and 13 walks in the win. Anderson went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and two RBIs. Hudson and Young also had two RBIs each on the night.
“Cameron has a had a lot of confidence this summer,” Young noted. “But we want to continue to develop his off-speed stuff. That’s what summer is all about — getting better. And Alex came in and did a good job closing it out in the fifth.
“I tell all the guys they need to take advantage of their opportunities,” he concluded. “Sometimes drawing a walk (like in the fifth inning), is a good at-bat.”
The Rattlers will return home Wednesday to face Union Pines, first with the junior team at 4:30 p.m., followed by the senior team at 7 p.m. They’ll wrap up the series Thursday, back on the road at Union Pines, at 4 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., respectively.