And Monday night, the No. 3-seeded Raiders were able to do that, opening the 2011 Southeastern Conference tournament at Raider Field against visiting Hoke County with a 6-2 win.
The Raiders drew first blood in this one, and didn’t wait long at all to do so. In the bottom of the first, Andy Shuler reached on a one-out infield single. Luke Bullard drew a walk, and then Alex Dockery plated Shuler with a single.
The third-seeded Bucks tied it in the top of the second. But Richmond again took the lead in the bottom of the third. Bullard led off the frame with a booming home run to left for a 2-1 Richmond advantage.
Richmond began to break the game open in the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Mercer started the uprising with a single. With one out, King drew a base on balls. Conner drove in Mercer with a single, and then Shuler added to the onslaught with a two-RBI single to put the Raiders up 5-1. Richmond closed out the four-run frame with a run on a Hoke throwing error.
The Bucks inched closer with a run in the top of the fifth, but ran themselves out of a potential rally with some boneheaded base running.
Starting pitcher Peter Howe gutted out a complete-game win for the Raiders, striking out six and working out of several jams.
With the possibility of three games for the Raiders this week, Howe wanted to help his team by hurling a complete game.
“I felt like I had pretty good stuff out there tonight,” Howe said. “I was able to throw my curveball on any count, and that helped.”
Richmond coach Ricky Young said Howe was the story of the game for Richmond.
“We hit the ball just enough tonight,” Young said. The Raiders move on to a second-round matchup tonight in Laurinburg against No. 2-seeded Scotland. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.