ROCKINGHAM — There is a scene in the movie “A League of Their Own” when the manager played by Tom Hanks turns around and whispers to himself, “We’re gonna win.”
Richmond Senior coach Ricky Young had that same feeling watching his pitcher Ryan Mercer warming up.
“I felt in pregame Ryan was really focused,” Young said. “It carried over into the game, he was really dialed in mentally.”
Mercer faced two batters over the minimum and struck out seven en route to a three-hit 4-0 victory over Jack Britt in the opening round of the 4A state playoffs Friday night at Raider Field.
“I was definitely focused,” Mercer said. “This could have been my last game on the mound at Richmond. I was hitting my spots and keeping them off balance with my off-speed pitch.”
The Buccaneers (12-15) managed to hit two balls out of the infield against Mercer in the contest — a bloop single by Justin Stanley in the first inning and a fly out to right by Russell Anderson in the seventh. Two of Jack Britt’s hits were infield singles. Dustin Adams reached when his grounder tipped off the end of Mercer’s glove in the third. Adams added another infield hit in the sixth when he beat out a chopper behind second base.
“We talked before the game how we wanted to play them the night before Relay for Life (which was being held at the same time at Raider Stadium),” Mercer said. “We took it personally when they wouldn’t move the game.”
Offensively, Richmond struggled against Adams, Jack Britt’s starter. Adams surrendered four hits and struck out five. The Raiders took advantage of defensive miscues to plate three unearned runs. The lone earned run for Richmond in the contest was scored on a wild pitch.
“We wanted to be aggressive every chance we got,” Young said. “Everyone gets scouting reports on their opponents and they knew we wanted to be aggressive which forced them into some mistakes.”
With the victory, the Raiders will face Hoggard (14-9) in the second round on Tuesday. The Vikings, the No. 4 team from the Mideastern, upset West Johnston, the top seed out of the Greater Neuse River, 8-4.
In other scores from the SEC, Scotland, the league’s top seed, cruised past South View 11-4. Pinecrest, the No. 3 team from the conference, was eliminated by Millbrook, 2-1. Fourth-seeded Lumberton also fell by the same score at Leesville Road.
In the softball playoffs, the SEC’s regular season and tournament champion, Purnell Swett, blanked Pine Forest 1-0, while Scotland, the No. 3 team, knocked off Millbrook 8-4. Pinecrest was ousted from the postseason by Leesville Road.
Auman brothers fall in opener
RALEIGH — Richmond Senior’s Alex and Colt Auman lost in set straights in their first round doubles contest at the 4A state tournament at Millbrook Exchange Park.
The team of Patrick Longest and Andrew Waddell from Broughton downed the Aumans 6-1, 6-3. The Auman brothers finished with a 24-4 doubles record.
“They played well and had a wonderful season,” Richmond coach Paula York said. “Alex had a wonderful career. He is the only player I had to make it to state two times, last year in singles and this year in doubles. Plus, this was great experience for Colt.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com