Thursday, 24 June 2021 00:13

Late push by Renegades not enough in CCSSL opener against Scotland

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Rising junior Ashton Phifer, one of five Raiders to have two hits, connects on an RBI single in Wednesday's game. Rising junior Ashton Phifer, one of five Raiders to have two hits, connects on an RBI single in Wednesday's game. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond and Scotland baseball teams put on a hitting clinic during Wednesday’s game, combining for 24 hits and 26 runs scored.

Despite outhitting Scotland 13 to 11, the Richmond Renegades fell 14-12 to open their Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League campaign.

Made up of rising sophomore, junior and senior players, Richmond head coach Rob Ransom used a revolving door of batters and pitchers to give the Renegades time at different spots in the field and opportunities at the plate.

Richmond trailed 14-6 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, and a late push saw the Renegades score three runs in the sixth and seventh. The Renegades also had the potential winning run at the plate before the final out was recorded.

Rising senior Will Dawkins started on the mound, and gave up six runs (four earned) on three hits in 2.2 innings. Rising junior Ethan Locklear faced three batters, before rising senior Cameron Way allowed eight runs (three earned) in two innings of work.

Fellow rising senior Colin Wheeler closed out the final 2.1 innings for Richmond, allowing just one hit and striking out three batters.

Hindering Richmond’s offensive play were seven errors on defense and allowing seven base on balls.

“We gave up too many errors and walks tonight, but Colin came in and pitched really well at the end,” Ransom said. “He gave us some good innings and helped change the momentum.

“But we need to pitch better earlier in games,” he added. “Tonight we threw too many fastballs that were flat and (Scotland) hit, then we didn’t make plays on defense.”

Richmond took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Way hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring rising senior Alston Johnson (leadoff single). On the night, Way went 2-for-2 at the plate with a game-high five RBIs.

Rising senior Cameron Way stands on first after a two-RBI single in Wednesday's game. (Kyle Pillar)

Scotland answered with four runs in the top of the second, and two more in the top of the third, to take a 6-1 lead.

The Renegades’ bats came to life in the bottom of the third, sending nine batters to the plate to score five runs and tie the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, Johnson was hit by a pitch thrown by Bryant Kimbrell to score rising sophomore Isaac Hinshaw (walk).

On the next pitch, rising sophomore James Eason ripped a two-RBI double to left, bringing home rising junior Ashton Phifer (single) and rising senior Cody Eason (walk). 

Way capped the inning just one pitch later, singling hard to left field, scoring Johnson and James Eason to make it 6-6.

Scotland answered with five runs of its own in the top of the fourth, before adding its final three runs in the fifth.

The top of the Renegades’ lineup got the scoring started in the bottom of the sixth with Johnson (HBP) and James Eason (single) reaching safely. 

With both runners in scoring position, Way barreled up an offering from relief pitcher Blaine Wagner for a two-RBI double to left.

Following a single in the next at-bat by rising senior Matthew Walker, a throwing error allowed Way to score to make it a five-run deficit.

Richmond scored three more runs in the bottom of the seventh, beginning with a Phifer RBI single to right, scoring courtesy runner Cody Eason.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Johnson sent a single to left field for two more runs, plating Locklear (walk) and Phifer. James Eason represented the winning run, but was thrown out by half a step on a grounder to short to end the game.

“There was great energy in the dugout tonight, and we had a chance to win,” Ransom said of the late-game push. “I thought James was safe on the final out and then Cameron was coming up, and his bat has been really hot. 

“I like what we saw out of the guys tonight,” he closed. “We have a really good mix of players this summer and I’m looking forward to seeing them interact and play at the varsity level.”

Five different Richmond players recorded two hits — Dawkins, James Eason, Johnson, Phifer and Way. Hinshaw, Locklear and Walker accounted for the other three, while Dawkins, James Eason and Way all had a double.

Johnson finished the game with three RBIs, James Eason added two of his own and Phifer tallied a solo RBI.

The Renegades (0-1) will turn around and head to Laurinburg on Thursday for the second of a three-game set with Scotland (1-0). 

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.

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