Richmond advances into third round

By Shawn Stinson Sports editor

May 16, 2014

ROCKINGHAM — There weren’t a lot of missteps from Richmond Senior in its second round matchup with D.H. Conley.

But the biggest one Friday didn’t come from a player, but rather a coach.

As he was frantically waving Ethan Baucom home on a single by Cody Leviner in the bottom of the fifth, Richmond coach Ricky Young ended up falling on his backside.

When Young got up, Baucom had crossed the plate and Richmond was on its way into the third round of the state 4A playoffs with a 6-2 victory over Conley at Raider Field.

“All I could do was laugh,” Young said about his tumble. “I have been meaning to fill that hole for a while now because I keep thinking someone is going to get hurt.”

Young was in a better spirits following this win. He was unhappy with his team’s intensity in its playoff-opening victory over West Johnston.

“Their mindset was much better tonight,” Young said. “We knew we got away with one Tuesday, sometimes that is all it takes.”

And just like against West Johnston, Richmond jumped out to a quick first-inning lead on Conley.

Mike Rush and Nic Bullard reached on a single and a walk. Bradley Brown got the team on the scoreboard with a double to plate Rush and send courtesy runner Anthony Billingsley to third. James Buie grounded out to second as Billingsley scored. On the play, Montek Johnson, running for Brown, moved to third. Johnson raced home on Baucom’s single to right.

Young thought Bullard’s pitching in the top of the frame got the team off to a good start.

“Nic set the tone in the first,” Young said.

Bullard struck out Ryan Maness looking to open the frame and retired Dylan Nichols on a check-swing ground ball to first. Bryant Packard singled, but was promptly picked off first.

Bullard, who earned the save in Tuesday’s win, went 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, four walks and two runs — one earned.

“Nic had a great performance,” Brown said. “His change-up was as good as I have ever seen it. He’s our bulldog out there.”

Bullard finished with 10 strikeouts and admitted he was having a hard time finding the strike zone.

“I struggled with my command all night,” Bullard said. “I made the pitches when I needed to and my defense played well behind me. It was a total team win.”

Buie closed out the win by getting the final two outs. Young said he pulled Bullard in the seventh because of his high pitch count as well as wanting to get Buie on the mound “because we are going to need him.”

On offense, Baucom continues to swing a hot bat for the Raiders (19-6-1) in the postseason. He added another three hits and a run batted in against the Vikings. Baucom is now 5 of 7 in the playoffs with three RBIs.

Richmond will face the winner of today’s New Hanover-South Central clash in the third round. Pinecrest, the other Southeastern Conference team still alive in the postseason, had its game at J.H. Rose pushed back to 3 p.m. today because of wet field conditions.

Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.