ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior coach Ricky Young shook his head as he tried to figure out his team’s offense.
The Raiders recorded four of their six hits in the first inning and scored all of their runs in the frame to turn back New Hanover, 4-3, Saturday afternoon.
“We didn’t look like the same team in the last five at bats,” Young said. “We abandoned our hitting philosophy. When we have a chance to put a team away we have to do it.”
The first four Richmond batters reached base safely against New Hanover. Jeremy Smith opened the game for the Raiders (7-2) with a bunt single and Drew Butler followed with a single of his own. Ryan Mercer knocked in both Smith and Butler with a double. Austin Brower added a run-scoring double to drive home Mercer. Following a ground out, Mikey Steele’s sacrifice fly to center scored Brower.
It was the only runs Richmond would get in the contest against New Hanover’s Gray Brooks. After his rocky start, Brooks recovered to allow just two hits the rest of the way.
Brooks wasn’t the only pitcher to bounce back after a rough first inning as Richmond’s James Buie also struggled to begin the contest. After Buie walked the Wildcats’ leadoff hitter Collin Dolan, Sam Foy ripped a 1-1 pitch over the right-center field fence for a two-run home run. After a ground out and a fly out, Buie got into further trouble by walking Wright Simmons and Ward Coleman. Buie got out of the threat when Coleman was caught stealing.
“James could have given up after the first,” Young said. “He kept battling out there.”
The Wildcats trimmed the deficit to one with a run in the second. New Hanover’s best opportunity to tie the game came in the sixth. Bates Taylor opened the frame with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Simmons’ attempted sacrifice bunt was scooped up by Bradley Brown, who fired to Alex Clark to get Taylor at third for the first out. Simmons was thrown out attempting to steal second before Coleman singled. Ramone Simpson reached on an error to put runners at first and second, but Brown got out of the jam by striking out Andrew Hanley.
The Raiders will return to action at 7 p.m. today against Southeastern Conference foe Purnell Swett. Richmond is expected to start Nic Bullard on the mound against the Rams.
“He’s earned it,” Young said of the sophomore left-hander. “He hasn’t given up a run this year.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org