Richmond Hill opened their 2008 baseball season with a couple of minor surprises for their coaching staff and fans.
The inexperienced Wildcats pitched well and fielded well but struggled at the plate. The Cats fell short Monday Feb. 25 to the Swainsboro Tigers 5-3.
At game two on Thursday Feb. 28 at Brantley County it became apparent that Richmond Hill may have spent some time working on their hitting – they exploded for 10 runs in a five-inning, 10-0 whitewash of the Herons.
Raul Rodriguez got the start and the win from the mound while also going 2-3 with 3 RBI’s at the plate. Designated hitter Nathan Kilburn, and catcher John Johnson contributed with 2-3 hitting and 3 RBI’s each while Cody Crow picked up a double in the game.
On Monday, a few "sportscenter " type plays in the field and a Wildcat pitching staff that used stellar control to keep them close wasn’t enough to overcome the cold Wildcat bats that were overwhelmed by three hard throwing Tigers.
Senior hurler Alex Tucker (0-1) got the start for the Wildcats and was more effective than not in his four and one third innings on the mound. Swainsboro managed seven hits against Tucker but he supplemented it with just one base on balls and used his defense to help keep his team in the game.
Tyler Mitchell’s diving catch in centerfield prevented back to back hits in the second inning.
Second baseman Cody Crow made a diving stab of a line drive up the middle to end a two run uprising in the third inning and a third, to second, to first double play in the fourth, turned by Rodriquez, Crow and Jeremey Goolsby kept the game at 2-1 in favor of the Tigers, but the Wildcat bats were falling silent against a pretty good Tiger pitching staff.
Swainsboro’s starter Justin Newsome was showing off a blazing fastball early and the Wildcat batters were seeing little else. Richmond Hill struck out a dozen times and was unable to take much advantage of five walks and the five hits they did manage. Newsome got the win but was relieved by Matt Murry in the fourth inning and Cody Gillis picked up the save with the final two innings work for the Tigers.
The Wildcats best chance came in the fifth inning when Goolsby hit a double over the center fielders head and pinch runner John Phifer scored on Raul Rodriguez’ hard hit single to second base.
The Wildcats went on to load the bases on a walk and another single by Cody rushing but was unable to get anymore runs as the inning ended with another strikeout, but the score was just 4-2 and Matt Graney was on to relieve Tucker for the Wildcats.
Graney worked his team out of a jam in the fifth inning when he came on with two runs already in and two runners on with just one out. He struck out the first batter he faced. Goolsby then saved a low throw from Rodriquez at third to help Graney get the ground out and get out of the inning without further damage. The Richmond Hill senior pitched the rest of the way giving up just one hit, one run and striking out four.
Kilburn walked in the seventh and Rodriguez followed with a deep fly double to left field and a run was plated on John Johnson’s RBI ground out. The rally ended with the Wildcat’s final strike out of the game.
Richmond Hill will be at home Wednesday March 5 for a 6 p.m. start against their cross county rivals, Bryan County. The following day they will be in Brunswick at 5:30 p.m., then home on Friday against Groves at 5:30 p.m.