RAEFORD — A tightly contested game between the Richmond and Hoke County baseball teams had fans on the edge of their seats Tuesday night, as the Raiders threatened the Bucks’ lead with three consecutive singles at the top of the seventh inning.
With Richmond trailing by two runs and facing one out, senior Jonathan Lee and junior Jake Ransom hit back-to-back singles — which gave the away team some momentum and forced Hoke to make a change on the mound.
Jahan Jones, who came in to base run for Ransom, got caught in between bases while Cam Carraway was at the plate, but Lee was able to make it home while that was going on in order to bring the Raiders within a run. Carraway followed with a two-out single, stole second base and then got to third on a wild pitch.
It all came down to Richmond’s Trey Watkins, who was 1-for-3 at the time, and Hoke’s Ryan Taylor, who came in to relieve teammate Logan Goins on the mound after Ransom’s single. Watkins and Taylor battled into a 2-2 count, and then Taylor threw a pitch that the umpire called a strike — leaving Watkins in disbelief at the plate.
Hoke (8-6, 6-1 SAC) would celebrate a 6-5 win over Richmond (5-5, 3-4 SAC) in the first of two matchups this week.
The first two-and-a-half innings of play were all in favor of the Raiders, as they held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third. Senior Drew Loving came in to run for Garet Weigman at the top of the second, who hit a lead-off single, and eventually made his way home on a wild pitch for the game’s first score.
Richmond would tack on two more runs on two hits in the top of the third. Ransom and Watkins picked up a single and a double, respectively, before Weigman’s RBI groundout brought Ransom in from third. Jones was subbed in to run for Watkins and scored from second base on an error at first base.
It was the bottom of the third when the momentum began to shift.
Hoke, who had gone three-and-out in the first and second innings, finally got on base after Will Bryant was walked. Bryant would come home on an error and then watched as his team picked up four straight hits — a Kobe Locklear bunt, an RBI each from Jamison Cummings and Taylor, and a single from Goins — and tie the game at 3-all.
Two more runs were scored on another error, Richmond’s third of the inning, and the Bucks went ahead 5-3.
Both Richmond and Hoke tacked on one run in the fourth inning. Lee gave Richmond its fourth run of the night after making it to third base and then trotting home once the officials called Goins for a balk on the mound. Locklear brought in Chavis with an RBI single at the bottom of the fourth.
Watkins pitched a complete game, giving up five hits and striking out eight batters. He finished with one of the team’s eight hits on the night. Both Lee and Ransom led the way with two hits. Alex Anderson, Carraway and Weigman were the other Raiders who picked up a hit.
NOTE: The Richmond softball team defeated Hoke County 22-2, hitting four home runs in its eighth consecutive win. Freshman Paige Ransom’s homer was a second-inning grand slam.
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.