For five complete innings on Tuesday, Richmond Hill’s Scott Strickland flirted with a no-hitter against Richmond Hill’s old nemesis Savannah Christian, but for five innings his teammates failed to provide him with any run support. It would take a rally in the final two innings to give the Wildcats and Strickland the 4-3 well deserved victory.
After the Raiders finally broke through in the sixth with three of their four hits and the only three runs they would score, the biggest blow being pinch hitter Nate Sisolak’s 2 RBI single, Richmond Hill bounced back with two runs in the bottom half and set up a dramatic seventh. Strickland would have to weather another storm first.
The Raiders’ first batter in the seventh reached base on a single. Strickland followed with his second walk of the game and a sacrifice bunt back to Strickland put runners in scoring position with only one out. The Richmond Hill senior appeared to be tiring a bit and drew a trip to the mound from Coach Mitchell Curry. After a long discussion, Strickland remained on the mound. Afterward, Curry would explain his decision.
“Scott pitched such a great game I just felt like he deserved a chance to get out of that last jam.”
He did and made his coach’s decision the right one. Strickland struck out the next batter then coaxed a fly ball to left field to end the threat and give his team mates another shot at the lead. Curry also praised his defense, which played another error free game, and, in the end, defense would decide the outcome.
Aaron Pittsley (2 for 3) and Josh Futch (2 for 3, 2b) led off the seventh with seeing eye ground ball singles that, while not ruled errors, were plays a team of the Raiders caliber probably should have made. Jake Dudley was in to pinch run for Pittsley, the Wildcats finally had some breaks going their way, and Curry had his two fastest players on the corners.
First baseman Jeremy Goolsby came to the plate next and was able to put a perfect squeeze bunt down the third base line that Dudley scored easily on to tie the score and that Goolsby almost beat out at first. Futch, who was running on the pitch as well, was headed for third. The first baseman’s throw toward the bag was low, in the dirt, and down the line. All Futch needed to do was easily come home with the winning run.
The Wildcats other two runs in the sixth were set up when the Raider short stop booted John Johnson’s grounder and Jeff Yeager followed with a single. After a fielders choice out, Scott Strickland helped himself with an RBI single plating Johnson, and Cameron Corbin would score a run on a wild pitch.
While the Raiders defense faltered, there were a couple of gems turned in by the Wildcat infield that deserve mentioning.
In the fourth inning, while Strickland was still nurturing the no-hitter, second baseman Cameron Corbin had to range to his left dive for a ground ball in the grass and came up spinning toward first with a perfect throw to keep the no-hitter going. Strickland helped himself too with the fielding of a hard ground ball that got on him quick to get another key out in the sixth. In between Strickland’s strikeouts, the Wildcats had eleven defensive putouts, six in the infield and four fly balls to the outfield, plus one runner caught stealing. The Cats also used good fundamentals at the plate putting the ball in play against Raider Russell Demasi, who wound up with the no decision after being relieved with the lead in the sixth.
Overall, another Wildcat victory for a team that is just on fire right now.
The Wildcats will travel to Bradwell on Wednesday March 21 for a 6 p.m. start before returning home for the much anticipated region 3-AAA opener against South Effingham on Friday March 23 at 6 p.m. Saturday the Wildcats will be at Effingham High School for a 2 p.m. start.