The key to Richmond Senior staying alive in the 4A East Region final series goes beyond cutting down on its errors and baserunning mistakes.
It is keeping Millbrook’s table setters off the bases.
In Tuesday’s 6-5 win, leadoff hitter Brian Miller was 2 of 4 with a double and a run batted in, but reached in all four plate appearances, thanks to two errors. Miller, a UNC Asheville commit, scored four times, including what turned out to be the game-winner in the sixth inning on a double by Chris Scott.
Speaking of Scott, he was also a thorn in the side of the Raiders in Game 1. Scott was 4-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Out of the Wildcats’ six runs, Miller and Scott scored five of them. If you include Miller’s run-scoring double in the sixth, the duo was responsible for all six runs.
This type of performance from the No. 1 and 2 hitters should be familiar to Richmond fans. Even though Miller and Scott don’t appear to have the speed (or at least they haven’t shown it yet) but they caused havoc Tuesday just as Richmond’s Jeremy Smith and Drew Butler did in the previous two runs to the East Region final.
Smith and Butler were the perfect fit in coach Ricky Young’s offense. Both were able to put pressure on the other team’s defense with their speed. All it would take is a split second of hesitation for Smith and Butler to beat out a bunt or steal a base.
And once the pair was on, it was almost automatic for Bradley Brown, James Buie or Taylor McLean to drive them home.
This is what Richmond will be shooting for tonight against Millbrook in Game 2, getting this season’s table setters on base. Mike Rush and Nic Bullard were a combined 1 of 8 in the opener. Normally a run-producer, Brown was forced into a role of table setter, reaching base three times and his courtesy runner, Kevin Lee, scored three times.
Ethan Baucom, the No. 5 hitter, was able to pick up the torch for Brown, driving in three and connected on an opposite-field home run leading off the fourth. Buie, batting cleanup, added a run-scoring double.
The trio of Brown, Buie and Baucom combined for six of Richmond’s eight hits in the loss.
For Richmond is to live another day, it will need to find a way to get runners on so the heart of the lineup can do what it does best — drive in runs. And its ace, Bullard, will need to keep Miller and Scott in check.
If that happens, odds are the teams will be returning to Raider Field for a third and decisive game Friday night.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.