Fans were expecting an emotional, hard-fought game between the top baseball teams in Region 2-AAAAAA Monday night and that is exactly what they got.
Richmond Hill beat Glynn Academy 6-4 at home in a game filled with controversy, weird plays and gritty defense.
“There was a lot of emotion out there tonight and I can understand that, given what’s at stake,” Wildcats Coach Stacy Bennett said afterward. “It’s easy for young players to get emotional, and you can’t blame them, but at some point you have to re-focus and get the job done.”
With the game tied at 4-4 in the top of the fifth inning, a Glynn baserunner trying to score from second on an outfield hit bowled over Richmond Hill catcher Kip Gibson at the plate just as the ball was getting to him. The runner was called out, ending the half inning for the Red Terrors.
Glynn Coach Greg Roberts argued that Gibson was blocking the plate before securing the ball, but umpires explained the runner was out because he did not attempt to slide or avoid Gibson.
With tempers flaring in the stands and both dugouts, Bennett turned to his team and yelled “This is a big turning point. Don’t lose your cool!”
The Wildcats maintained their composure and manufactured the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning in an unusual manner.
Rick Mitchell led off with a walk, then advanced to second on a fielder’s choice put-out of Braden Henle. Mitchell moved over to third on a single by Gibson, then scored when Chris Sewell swung at a third strike, only to have the ball glance off the Glynn catcher’s mitt and then bounce out of reach after hitting the home plate umpire’s mask.
“It was a wild game, but it’s something we can learn from,” Bennett said.
Bennett was also pleased with the performance of his pitcher, Mike Menhart, who threw a 77-pitch complete game.
“He really battled,” Bennett said. “He kept the ball down and forced them to make contact and let our defense do their job.”
Richmond Hill added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Matt Overstreet, pinch running for Will McGrath, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Evan Vaughn, then stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mitchell.
Richmond Hill is now 6-1 in the region and 16-8 overall, while Glynn falls to 7-3 in the region and 17-8 overall. The two teams are scheduled to play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Glynn and again at 6 p.m. Friday at Richmond Hill. The Wildcats then finish up region play with three games against Bradwell Institute next week.