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Matthews homer lifts Wildcats in 10th
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Coach Curry figured Kevin Matthews was still upset about having his two run homer wiped off the books when their game at West Laurens got rained out recently. So the Richmond Hill coach wasn’t too surprised when his junior pitcher and outfielder came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday and ended the marathon game with a solo walk off homer.
Matthews, better known for his pitching prowess didn’t figure in to the game from the mound. He had started the rain out against the Raiders so Curry wanted to switch up by starting his other left handed ace, Billy Kilmer. After two innings it appeared it may have been the wrong strategy.
West Laurens scored one run in the first then four runs in the second powered by seven hits - the biggest being a three run homer off the bat of the Raiders Eason Spivey. Kilmer would not give up however and Richmond Hill would start the long claw back.
After Cody Rushing’s first inning sacrifice drove in their first run the Cats could not match the Raiders big four inning outburst and went to the third down 5-1.
Richmond Hill answered with three runs the next two innings: Rushing doubled and scored on an error in the third and Matthews (2-4, HR RBI) walked and scored on Cody Crow’s (2-5, RBI)  single in the fourth. A heads up play by Alex Real scored Crow when he managed to stay in a run down long enough for Crow to score before making the third out. Meanwhile the pitching continued to hold.
From the third inning on Kilmer, then Ryan Esenwein, who would relieve in the seventh inning and become the winning pitcher of record, never gave up another run. Both used their defense and timely strike outs to help them stay out of further trouble. Esenwein relieved in the seventh inning and would work his way out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth. The Cats appeared to have the game won an inning earlier.
Still down by a run in the seventh the Wildcat short stop Real (3-5, 2B, RBI) led off with a single and scored the game tying run a batter later on Connor Mitchell’s (2-5, RBI) single. Then Matthews appeared to become the hero early but his single through the left side of the infield grazed off the foot of Adam Moe’s foot making Mitchell’s apparent winning run null and void.
Matthews would have to wait three innings to win the game and make a loser of the Raiders relief pitcher Dylan Gay.
“I told coach Brown that was the type of game you hate to see anyone lose” said Curry afterward. His teams propensity for being the “giant killers” of the region is growing. A week earlier the Wildcats beat Thomson 8-6 to give them their only region loss and then West Laurens just their second region loss. Richmond Hill at 11-6, 5-2 has righted the ship and now find themselves just one game back of Thomson in the loss column.
They traveled on Saturday and beat Burke County 15-2 in five innings. Josh Candelario needed just 70 pitches to put away the Bears while his team mates pounded out 11 hits to back him up.
Richmond Hill will be at home Friday April 16 against Baldwin County at 3:30 p.m. then will travel to Effingham County High School Monday for a 6:00 p.m. start.    

Logan covers Richmond Hill High School sports
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