ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Rattlers had a one-run lead with two outs, and there was a runner on third base, at the top of the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League game versus Southern Lee.
Rising senior Evan Hudson, who was on the mound, had just witnessed back-to-back dropped balls in the outfield that led to an RBI groundout, which put pressure on he and the defense to make a play that would end the contest.
It didn’t take long for that to happen, though, as Hudson fired one into the strike zone, on his second pitch, that was hit in the direction of Richmond’s first baseman — who jogged over to tag the base for the game’s final out.
And the Rattlers escaped with a 5-4 victory in order to extend their winning streak to nine games.
“That was big situation,” head coach Ricky Young said of the seventh-inning jam. “All summer we’ve had games where we didn’t have everybody here and other people have stepped up. And I think that’s good to help build confidence.”
Hudson was a fresh arm, as he relieved rising junior Mitchel Paul at the top of the sixth inning after Southern Lee scored three runs with two outs. Hudson forced a fly ball to end the sixth and then opened the seventh with a strikeout.
Paul was able to wiggle his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning by, like Hudson, throwing a pitch that resulted in a groundout to first base. The rising junior retired Southern Lee’s batters in order in the second and fifth — earning two of his strikeouts in those two innings.
“One thing I keep saying is that we want to be able to pitch to contact,” Young said, “and both of those guys did a great job tonight of just keeping their hitters off balance and using our defense.”
The Rattlers struck first in the bottom of the second when Nolan Allen, who led off with a single, made it home after Hudson was able to get contact on the ball and race to first on an error.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, they went ahead 5-0 thanks to a sacrifice fly, an RBI groundout, a one-run single and a Southern Lee error. Rising senior Brett Young recorded the RBI single, advanced to second once rising senior Jake Ransom was walked, stole third, and then got up to run home after an errant throw.
At the top of the sixth, Paul walked two batters and gave up a single in the early going — which loaded the base and gave Southern Lee some momentum. Paul’s throw to first base after scooping up a bunt whipped right past the first baseman’s and led to the opposing team plating three runs.
Allen finished the game with three of the team’s six hits (all singles). Hudson recorded a base hit in the fifth inning.
“We just want to keep doing what we’re doing,” Young said. “As long as we continue to throw strikes, we feel like we have a good chance to win the game we play.”
Richmond will put their nine-game winning streak on the line when it travels to Southern Lee for the rematch on Thursday.
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.