Wednesday, 13 March 2019 10:58

Ransom's second grand slam sparks late-game rally past Pinecrest

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Jake Ransom yells as he's greeted by teammates following his seventh-inning grand slam on Tuesday. Jake Ransom yells as he's greeted by teammates following his seventh-inning grand slam on Tuesday. Shawn Weigman — The Richmond Observer.

SOUTHERN PINES – On March 16, 2018, Jake Ransom stood with his Richmond Senior High School varsity baseball teammates at home plate waiting to welcome home Gordon Pihl who was circling the bases at John Williams Field at Pinecrest High School. 

Pihl’s three-run blast in the top of the sixth inning helped to lift the Raiders to an 8-5 victory over their conference foe.

On Tuesday evening, it was Ransom who was mobbed by his fellow Raiders after taking a lap around the diamond.  Ransom’s sevent-inning grand slam turned a 2-1 defensive battle into a 6-1 Richmond victory.  It was his second grand slam in as many weeks and only the second hit of the night for the Raiders.

The win improved the Raiders to 4-2 on the season and 3-0 in Sandhills Athletic Conference play.  The only other SAC team with an undefeated conference record is Jack Britt (2-0).

Despite getting outhit 5-2, the Raiders (4-2, 3-0 SAC) deterred nearly every Patriot threat with a stifling defensive performance.  

In the bottom of the second inning, Dallas Cowick, Brett Young and Cameron Carraway combined for a perfectly executed 5-4-3 double play following a one-out single from Patriot catcher Nick Phan.

Hunter Parris (3-0) who earned the complete game victory for the Raiders, collected a Hunter Hewitt ground ball on the bounce and tossed it to catcher Garet Weigman who tagged out Pinecrest’s Pres Ostert at home plate in the bottom of the fifth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Patriot second baseman Elliot Embler launched a 2-2 pitch into the far corner of right field.  Garret Richardson turned on the jets and snatched it out of the sky in stride for the out.

In a night where several high hit balls were lost in the sky by players from both teams, Richardson and centerfielder Jahan Jones each made some big grabs under tough circumstances to keep Pinecrest (4-2, 2-1 SAC) at bay.

Richmond took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a play that caused some confusion.  With the bases loaded and two outs, Evan Hudson delivered a hard hit ground ball to Embler.  Embler elected to toss the ball to shortstop Ethan Garner who was covering second base in an effort to beat a sprinting Weigman for the inning’s final out.

The umpire ruled that Garner’s foot came off of the base and that Weigman was safe at second.  Garner protested the call and a discussion ensued causing players from both teams to forget that they were still involved in a live play.

Since there were two outs, Carraway dashed home from third base at the sound of the bat.  Will Chappel, who began the play at second, rounded third, but became lost in the confusion and stalled between third base on home plate.  

His teammates began to yell for him to run home, but that caught the attention of the Patriots who were able to get the ball into the hands of Phan who tagged Chappel out at the plate.

After another discussion between the officials, the umpire informed the crowd that Carraway’s score did count and that the Raiders had taken the lead.

Pinecrest answered in the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back hits from Patriot left fielder RJ Sales (double) and Bryce Calcutt (RBI-single) to tie things up.

In the top of the seventh, Richardson stood patiently as Ostert tossed four consecutive balls to earn a leadoff walk.  After a Patriot pitching change, Parris and Cowick struck out, but Hudson and Bass each walked to load the bases.

Another Pinecrest pitching change put Jacob Zimmerman on the mound.  Zimmerman walked Young with the bases loaded plating Richardson for the go ahead run.

That’s when Ransom stepped to the plate.  He blasted a 1-1 pitch from Zimmerman over the right field fence that sent the Raider faithful to their feet and the Patriot fans to the exit.

Due to the threat of rain, game two has been moved from Friday to Thursday at 7 p.m. at Raider field.  The Raiders will attempt to sweep Pinecrest for the first time since 2015.  The two teams have split the series for the last three seasons.