ROCKINGHAM — There was something about the way Chris Scott was seeing the ball at Raider Field.
The No. 2 hitter in the Millbrook lineup ended up a perfect 4 of 4 with two run-scoring doubles against Richmond starter Cody Leviner.
Scott’s last double in the top of sixth proved to be the game-winner as the Wildcats pulled out a 6-5 victory over the Raiders in Game 1 of the 4A East Region final series.
“He was throwing me balls I could hit,” Scott said of his night at the plate.
Brian Miller also had a run-scoring double in the sixth as Millbrook built a 6-4 lead.
Scott added his team knew the importance of winning the series opener on the road and heading back home with the chance to close out the series.
“We wanted to make sure we won this game, go back home and take care of it,” Scott said. “We play better at home than we do on the road.”
Millbrook coach Austin James echoed his outfielder’s thoughts about getting the series lead.
“We knew we needed to win the first game,” James said. “Those guys are a dangerous hitting team. Of course you feel good about winning Game 1 and going home. The way that team hits, it’s not going to be easy.”
Richmond (21-7-1) tried mounted a rally with two outs in the bottom of the seventh but it wasn’t enough. Millbrook starter Gunner Deal struck out Mike Rush and Nic Bullard to open the inning before hitting Bradley Brown with a pitch on the foot. James Buie hit a double to center scoring courtesy runner Kevin Lee. Ethan Baucom was hit by a pitch to put the game-winning run on first.
Deal was able to escape the jam by striking out Taylor McLean on three pitches and earn the complete-game victory. Deal allowed eight hits, five earned runs, walked two and struck out six.
Leviner was saddled with the loss, pitching 5 2/3 innings giving up 10 hits, six runs — two earned — and striking out three. Joe Butler went the other 1 1/3 in relief, walking one and striking out one.
“It’s the same story as it has been all year — defense and baserunning. We can’t commit three errors and have a baserunning mistake,” Richmond coach Ricky Young said. “We have a big-time baserunning mistake and we run ourselves out of a big inning.”
The baserunning play Young was talking about occurred in the fourth inning with Richmond leading 3-2 following a lead-off home run by Baucom. McLean reached on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Pettit. Brandon Gibson ripped a single to left, moving McLean to third. On the play, Gibson attempted to advance to second but was thrown out for the second out. Deal ended the threat by coaxing Leviner to fly out.
Baucom finished 3-for-3 in the loss with a home run, a double and three runs batted in. Buie added two hits and an RBI.
This is the second time in its third straight East Region final series appearance Richmond has faced a 1-0 deficit. Two years ago, Middle Creek won the opening game 7-0 before Richmond forced a Game 3 with a 6-2 home victory. The Mustangs won the series with an 8-2 win in the decisive contest.
“I can’t compare this team with the team from two years ago,” Young said. “We have to worry about coming out Thursday and winning. We have to come out with better focus.”
Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Millbrook in a battle of aces. Richmond’s Bullard is scheduled to square off against Millbrook’s Alex Royalty.
In the West Region, West Forsyth took a 1-0 lead in its series with Providence with a 10-5 victory. The Titans and the Panthers will square off in Game 2 at 7 p.m. today in Clemmons.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.