ROCKINGHAM — Despite its sixth-inning rally, the Richmond baseball team’s sluggish start to Saturday’s game resulted in a 10-7 loss to Charlotte Christian. It was the first time the Raiders lost this season and the second consecutive year they came up short in the non-conference battle.
Charlotte Christian (3-2) did the majority of its damage in the top of the fourth inning, where it scored six runs on five hits, after junior JT Killen blasted a lead-off homer to kick things off. Reid Mayers, Matthew Silverling and Shane Russell followed Killen’s solo shot with a total of four RBI — Russell bringing home two runners on a double — and helped the Vikings take a 7-0 lead after three-and-a-half innings of play.
“I just didn’t think we competed very much early and I thought we gave away some at-bats,” head coach Ricky Young said. “We just didn’t have much energy today and didn’t compete very well.”
The bottom of the fourth inning started with Drew Loving striking out, but Gordon Pihl gave the Richmond crowd something to cheer about with a hit that got him to second base. Tyler Bass, who came in to base run for Pihl, scored Richmond’s only run of the inning on a Trey Watkins RBI single.
The Raiders seemed to be on their way to a double-digit loss after they gave up total of three runs at the top of the fifth and sixth innings, but a change on the mound for the Vikings — Ben Hunt relieving Killen — was just what the home team needed to get going in the bottom of the sixth.
Jake Ransom hit a double and then made it to third on an infield error while Pihl, who was walked prior to Ransom’s at-bat, made his way home all the way from first base. Chris Austin, Evan Hudson and Nolan Allen would follow with three consecutive singles (Ransom scores), Braxton Furstein would make it to first on an error (Austin scores), and Jonathan Lee and Bass each recorded RBI singles to cut into the deficit.
Richmond (4-1) brought itself within three runs, 10-7, moments later when Furstein made it home on a passed ball.
Pihl took the plate for the second time in the sixth inning — bases loaded with two outs — and almost sent the home crowd into a frenzy with a deep shot into centerfield, but his ball was caught right inside the fence.
And the Raiders’ rally came to an end.
“We did see a few signs late in the sixth inning,” Young said, “but if we would’ve had that same type of focus and energy earlier in the game, maybe it would’ve been a different result.”
Saturday’s game was Richmond’s third outing in as many days.
It hosted reigning conference champion Purnell Swett on Thursday and then made the trip to Pembroke to face the Rams again on Friday, the rematch being an 11-inning battle that lasted almost four hours.
“I’m sure some people will point to that, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse,” Young said of the three games in three days. “We’ve got to do a better job of coming to the ballpark every day and focusing, having better at-bats and, defensively, making plays. We’ve just go to get better.”
Richmond (4-1) will play Pinecrest twice this week: Tuesday (home) and Friday (away).
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.