Tuesday, 08 June 2021 22:48

Raiders drop series opener to rival Scotland

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Richmond catcher Colin Wheeler (right) tags out Scotland's Nick Cooke while trying to score in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. Richmond catcher Colin Wheeler (right) tags out Scotland's Nick Cooke while trying to score in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The Raider baseball team started its final regular-season series with a loss to Sandhills Athletic Conference rival Scotland High School on Tuesday.

A sloppy first inning that accounted for three of Richmond’s six errors in the game opened the door for Scotland to earn a 9-3 win.

The Fighting Scots dotted the scoreboard with three runs in the first, one in the second, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth to secure the victory.

Richmond tallied a lone run in the bottom of the fifth, before adding two more in the sixth to try and cut the deficit.

Junior pitcher Will Dawkins got the start for the Raiders, going five innings. He allowed six hits and six runs (two earned) and struck out one batter.

“Will struggled in the first inning and we didn’t help him any in the field,” head coach Rob Ransom said. “We made way too many errors on the night against a team that you can’t give extra outs to. 

“In the third and fourth innings, Will settled in and threw the ball really well,” he added. “But we still have to swing the bat better with runners in scoring position. The biggest thing we need to do is play with more confidence, and that’s what we’re struggling with right now.”

Ransom said the Raiders continue to “play tight at the beginning of ball games,” which has impacted the outcomes.

Trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the fifth, junior Jude Howard led off the frame with a hit-by-pitch from Scotland starter Lane Roberson. A passed ball and a fielder’s choice moved Howard to third.

Fellow junior Cameron Way reached on the same fielder’s choice. With Way trying to steal second, Scotland catcher Bryant Grubbs recorded a throwing error, allowing Howard to trot home for Richmond’s first run.

An inning later and down 9-1, sophomore Ethan Locklear connected with two outs for a two-RBI single up the middle in his varsity debut.

With teammates David O’Neal (infield single) and Camron Seagraves (fielder’s choice) on second and third, respectively, Locklear laced a hard ground ball up the middle into center field, scoring both runners.

“In the previous at-bat, I wasn’t putting my front foot down soon enough. And Coach (Corey) Wallace reminded me of that in my next at-bat,” Locklear said. “I just made sure I got it down early enough to have a good swing and it sure enough helped with a single up the middle.

“It made me feel great in the moment, and I know it made the team feel better to get some more runs on the board. It was a good way to start my first varsity game.”

Despite committing a half dozen errors, the Raiders had several key defensive plays to keep the score close. Twice junior catcher Colin Wheeler connected with Way at short to throw runners out trying to swipe second.

Both strikes were inning-ending outs, the first one catching Nick Cooke to end the top of the third. The other saw Luke Taylor tagged out to send the Raiders to the plate in the fourth trailing 4-0.

The Raiders’ last two big defensive play came from Seagraves in left field, both in the top of the fifth. Seagraves made a snow cone grab for second out, and then lasered the ball to Wheeler at the plate following a single to catch Cooke trying to score.

“Cameron (Way) made two really nice tags on both outs at second, scooping the ball to get big outs when we needed them,” Wheeler said.

“Those plays pump the team up,” he added. “And when Camron (Seagraves) threw me the ball on the relay, that was the hardest I’ve seen him throw. It came in really quick and was right on the money for me to apply the tag.”

Richmond recorded four hits off Roberson, who pitched six innings. Way had a double, while Locklear, O’Neal and sophomore Ethan Clayton added singles.

“We had an opportunity to have some younger guys come up and play tonight,” Ransom said. “They did really well and Ethan had a big hit for us. Walker (Lambeth) got hit by a pitch, but I was happy to see him get on base.

“We are going to try and clean up our mistakes and play better baseball,” Ransom closed. “Baseball isn’t a game where we can put in a new offense — we just have to come ready to play and make routine plays under stressful situations.”

Richmond (5-8, 4-7 SAC) will end its regular season on Friday at Scotland (10-3, 9-2 SAC), starting at 7 p.m.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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