After four losses in a row and the most important part of their schedule upon them, head coach Mitchell Curry focused his team's recent practice on what he felt they needed the most improvement on - hitting. The Wildcats took batting practice before the start of the game this past Tuesday on the field rather than in the batting cages, as is the normal practice, and it worked.
Richmond Hill broke out of their two game scoreless slump by putting together a twelve hit, fourteen run region 3-AAA win against Liberty County 14-5. Matt Schlag got the start for the Wildcats and became the beneficiary of his teams resurgence picking up his first win of the season. He didn’t need that much help.
The Richmond Hill senior pitched six innings striking out eight batters while walking only three. He had one bumpy inning in the fourth when the Panthers scored four runs but seemed to settle down after that and gave up only six hits in total.
Cameron Corbin relieved Schlag and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
Liberty County’s Justin Eaton pitched only one full inning picking up the loss, and was followed by Eric Mattingly and Aaron Hoffer.
At the plate for the Panthers, Kendrick Jones went 2 for 3 with a triple. Liberty County fell to 3-9, 0-2 while Richmond Hill improved to 8-5, 1-1 in region 3AAA's south subregion.
It was just the kind of game Curry was looking for from Schlag and his team mates.
"Matt pitched a heck of a game and we put the ball in play and played good defense behind him. That’s what I stressed to them before the game and that’s what they did." said Curry afterward.
Richmond Hill had four hard hit balls in the first inning but only Scott Strickland’s double to the left center field fence stood up. He was left stranded and many others left wandering when the two game run drought would end. After the Panthers took the lead in the top half of the second with a run, they would soon get their answer.
An error and two walks started the bottom half of the inning and then Steven Boaen broke the ice with a 2 RBI single. Another walk and a pitching change brought the nights hottest hitter to the plate with the bases loaded.
Right fielder Scott Strickland stroked his second of three doubles on the night to deep center field and three more runs crossed the plate. Designated hitter Nathan Kilburn followed with a single and then scored on Aaron Pittsley’s single with the innings seventh run. Liberty County tried to battle back, but the Wildcats onslaught continued as they added seven more runs over the next three innings.
Richmond Hill was led by Strickland’s 3 for 4 night with his 3 doubles and 3 RBI’s, Kilburn went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI’s, Boaen was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s, and Aaron Pittsley 2 for 4 with an RBI. Richmond Hill also took advantage of some shaky control by the Panther staff’s nine walks and three hit batsman to allow all but two of the starters to figure in the scoring.
On the defensive side, the Wildcats committed three errors but only one of them with runners in scoring position. They did turn in some sparkling plays behind Schlag to help their senior pitcher.
Steven Boaen continued his good glove work at short stop with a couple of plays behind the bag at second, Josh Futch robbed the Panthers of a hit to the wall in straight away center, and Scott Strickland threw out Liberty County’s Byron Calahan at the plate in the fifth inning. The throw was up the line and catcher John Johnson fielded the throw and reached back to tag the runner as he lunged for the plate.
The Wildcats will play one of only three non-region games remaining on Monday April 2 in McIntosh County at 4:30 p.m.