The Richmond Hill Middle School baseball team recently won the Coastal Empire Region championship, avenging its only regular-season loss in the process.
The Wildcats defeated William James Middle School of Statesboro 4-2 and 10-5 in the best-of-three finals. William James had been the only loss for RHMS during a 7-1 regular season.
“I don't think this is the last time you will hear these young men's names,” Coach Chris Willis said. “They are smart, hard-working young men who thrive under pressure.”
The Wildcats beat Screven County 13-3 in the first round of the tournament behind four RBIs from Will Hampton on a triple and a double.
A 7-2 win against South Effingham Middle School was next. Bradley Hill hit a two-run single in the second inning, and hits by Leighton Finley, Luke Boone and Hampton added three runs in the fifth. Finley picked up the win, giving up two runs and striking out seven over six innings.
“South always has a good team,” Willis said. “If you want to win a championship, you have to find a way to beat South Effingham.”
Against William James, Finley pitched a complete game in the 4-2 game-one victory, striking out six. Roman Smith got the Wildcats on the scoreboard in the first inning with a sacrifice fly, and Bradley Hill led off the fifth with a single. Ryan Wiebold was hit by a pitch and Kyle Lewis was safe on an error after a sacrifice bunt attempt. Hill scored to tie the game 2-2, and consecutive hits by Evan Cowan, Finley and Boone gave Richmond Hill the win.
“These young men understand baseball,” Willis said. “Sacrificing yourself for the team wins games.”
Down 5-2 in the second game, the Wildcats tallied nine hits in the fourth inning. Boone drove in four runs in the inning with a double and a three-run homer. Hill added a homerun in the fifth.
The entire roster is: Roman Smith, Bradley Hill, Luke Boone, Leighton Finley, Evan Cowan, Ryan Wiebold, Will Hampton, Alex Harwood, Niko Nichols, Ethan Fuller, Bryson Titlow, Kyle Lewis and Mason Wilcox.
Willis’s assistant coaches are Jesse Osborne, Ben Jernigan and Curtis Shank.
“Our team motto is ‘DO YOUR JOB’ and they did,” Willis said.
The RHMS cross country team won the state title last fall, and the Wildcats went on to win region titles in girls’ soccer, volleyball, swimming and golf.