Monday, 10 June 2019 00:21

Top Sports Stories No. 10: Young, Raiders walk-off against Reynolds in 12 innings

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The Raider baseball team's 12th inning walk-off against R.J. Reynolds earned the No. 10 spot in ROSports' countdown. The Raider baseball team's 12th inning walk-off against R.J. Reynolds earned the No. 10 spot in ROSports' countdown. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — In the first installment of ROSports’ “Top 10 Sports Stories” from the 2018-19 school year, the Richmond Senior High School baseball team asks readers to walk its way.

Packed with an unprecedented 12 seniors, the Raider baseball team entered its spring campaign on a mission to send its dozen soon-to-be graduates off in thrilling fashion. That mission ended with a 19-9 overall record, including an 11-3 mark against Sandhills Athletic Conference opponents.

The Raiders and head coach Ricky Young locked up the No. 2 spot in the SAC standings and earned a No. 10 seed in the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs. After an appearance in the semi-final game of the SAC tournament, the Raiders geared up for a tough No. 23 R.J. Reynolds High School in the opening round of the state tournament.

Young was quoted ahead of time as trying to “survive and advance,” which is exactly what the Raider would do against the Demons. Senior Brett Young would play hero in the 12-inning affair on May 7, walking-off with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring fellow senior Garret Richardson.

The marathon win would prove to be the final home game and victory for the 12 seniors, as Richmond would fall in a close game to No. 7 Hough High School in the second round of the playoffs three nights later.

The excitement of the late-night playoff win earned the Raider baseball team the opening spot in our countdown. It edged out several honorable mentions, which will be highlighted in a separate article once the top sports story is released.

Below is the original game story, written by sports editor Kyle Pillar for the May 8, 2019, edition of the Richmond Observer:

ROCKINGHAM — For Richmond Senior High School head baseball coach Ricky Young, a “win is a win,” no matter how long it takes.

The No. 10 Raiders hosted No. 23 R.J. Reynolds High School Tuesday in the opening round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs.

Richmond and the Demons played nearly two complete games, going 12 innings before the Raiders (19-8) walked it off in the home half to earn Richmond a 3-2 victory. The game lasted three hours and 28 minutes.

Senior second baseman Brett Young would help move his team onto the second round with a walk-off sacrifice fly to right field. His fly ball scored senior teammate Garret Richardson, who led off the inning with an infield single to third base.

Young is one of 12 seniors on this year’s Richmond team, and he came through when the Raiders needed him most in what would serve as most likely his last career home game.

After not scoring a run since the bottom of the third inning, Richmond loaded the bases with no outs in the 12th. With Richardson on first, junior Dallas Cowick laid down a bunt that saw the throw airmailed over first base, allowing him and Richardson to advance to second and third, respectively.

On a 3-1 count to Tyler Bass, Reynolds’ head coach Pat Frail elected to put the senior shortstop on base. Young dug in next and sent the first offering from relief pitcher Wills Woodruff, who took the loss after throwing 6.1 innings of relief, to right field and punched Richmond’s ticket to the second round.

“I wanted to be in that situation,” Brett Young smiled following the game. “I messed up the last time I was up, and I wanted to redeem myself. It wasn’t a spectacular hit, but I’m glad I got the job done when the team needed it.

“We feel really good about this win,” he added. “Our defense played a heck of a lot better tonight. I think we’ll to keep it going.”

What turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between a handful of hurlers for both teams, the game saw little offensive firepower and a lot of clutch defensive plays by the Raiders in tight situations.

It marked the second time since 2015 the two clubs met in the opening round, with the Raiders defeating Reynolds 5-3 four seasons ago.

“It’s all about surviving and advancing,” Ricky Young said. “We’ll take this win, no matter how ugly it was.

“(Reynolds) did a really good job of keeping us off balance at the plate,” he added. “There was a lot of off-speed stuff and not a lot of fastballs to hit. I’m just glad we were able to get some things done in the last inning.”

Senior righty Hunter Parris got the start for the Raiders, going 7.1 innings and allowing just two runs on nine hits in the no-decision.

Reynolds sent sidearm pitcher and Wofford College commit Luke Stephens to the hill, and he, too, allowed just two runs. Stephens limited the Raiders to just four hits in his five innings of work.

The Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, seeing Tyler Bass score from third after teammate Jake Ransom got in a pickle between first and second. A throwing error allowed Bass to trot home and Ransom to reach second safely.

Brett Young, who has been hot at the plate the last two weeks, roped an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the third. That knock scored Bass, who led off the inning by reaching second thanks to a dropped ball in center.

In the top of the fourth inning, Parris got out of a two-on, two-out jam with runners in scoring position. An inning later, Brett Young erased a leadoff double by Elijah Knight by hosing him at the plate when Knight tried to score on a ground ball to second.

Reynolds scored both of its runs in the top of the sixth, starting with a Stephens sacrifice bunt to first base, scoring Ryan Gallagher. Will Bradford would double home Knight in the next at-bat, but was called out at third when left fielder Evan Hudson threw him out trying to stretch it to a triple.

That began a stretch of six straight innings where neither team would score. Bass replaced Parris with one out in the seventh, and stayed in for an inning. Senior Cameron Carraway closed out the final 3.2 innings, collecting four strikeouts and the win.

Senior catcher Garet Weigman had a sharp performance behind the dish, starting with throwing out Gallagher in the top of the eighth trying to steal second for the second out.

He came in clutch again an inning later, bare-handing a foul ball that popped out of Ransom’s glove as the two collided along the first-base side. That marked the second out of the ninth, and stunted a bases-loaded, one-out threat by the Demons (6-11).

Combined, the Raiders and Demons stranded 18 batters on base (10 by Reynolds). Richardson nearly scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning, racing home on a bobbled pickoff attempt to first. But the senior right fielder was tagged out to end the inning.

The win gave the Raiders their 19th of the season, the second most they’ve earned since winning 20 games in 2016.

“Brett had two big hits and two RBIs for us tonight,” Coach Young said. “I was going to send Garret no matter what on the fly ball to try and make something happen. Brett hit it deep enough to score the run.

“We had some huge plays to get out of jams,” he continued. “Cam came in (during the ninth) and got out of a bases-loaded situation with one out. The defense was really good tonight.”

Next up for Richmond will be No. 7 Hough High School (18-9), which had a bye in the first round. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. on Friday in Cornelius, N.C.

Young noted that the Huskies are a “really good team,” but he’s glad the Raiders get another shot at playing in the postseason.

Last modified on Monday, 10 June 2019 00:24
Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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