Maybe it was the schedule - the Wildcats won a three-inning slaughter the night before at Johnson High School, not the kind of game that prepares you for the most formidable team in the region.
Perhaps it was big game jitters, or the fact that they were wearing new hats for the first time.
Whatever the reason, Richmond Hill was unable to continue their recent momentum and took an opening region 3-AAA loss at South Effingham 11-1 on Friday. Maybe a very talented Mustang team had a little to do with it too.
Richmond Hill’s Alex Tucker (1-2) matched up with the Mustang’s Jesse Osborne and seemed to be on his game in spite of being let down by the Wildcats failure to get any production out of a two man on and nobody out situation in their first at bat.
Tyler Mitchell led off with a perfect bunt down the third base line and was followed by a well placed single by Cody Crow, but a strikeout and double play got the Mustang hurler out of the jam and may have boosted his confidence the rest of the way.
After Tucker pitched an equally efficient bottom half of the inning, he would be reminded why baseball is a game of inches.
A hard line drive just off the glove tip of third baseman Raul Rodriguez and later a diving try of a ball to center field that bounced in and out of the glove of Mitchell seemed to unsettle Tucker and helped the Mustangs turn a couple of wild pitches, a throwing error, and a two RBI single by Mustang Colby May in to five runs. What could have been a scoreless inning instead changed the tone of the game and would be all the support SEHS’s Osborne would need.
The Wildcats scored their lone run after Jeremy Goolsby led off the fifth inning with a long double over the center fielder’s head and was driven in on Taylor Smith’s sacrifice fly. It seemed the Wildcats were starting to hit Osborne a little harder but they were out totaled in the hits category 11 to 4. Tucker would get in minor trouble again in the third inning and Matt Graney would help his senior bullpen mate out of it.
In spite of a quick first out and only his second walk of the game, head coach Mitchell Curry came to the mound to talk with Tucker and quickly went to his bullpen. Matt Graney did not let him down by coaxing an inning-ending Taylor to Crow to Goolsby double play. Crow would help turn another double play in the fifth inning and, while the Wildcat defense did shine in spots, it seemed the Mustangs capitalized on every mistake they did make.
After scoring three runs over the fourth and fifth innings off of Graney, the Mustangs took advantage of an error and a lost fly ball on the infield to score three runs and end the game a little early in the sixth. The Wildcats will now try to put that game behind them and turn their attention to some other region foes.
Richmond Hill will be at home on Friday against Benedictine for a 6 p.m. game and then again on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game against Hephzibah.