Playing one of the top teams in the state, on their own turf, in the first round of the state playoffs turned out to be every bit the challenge head Coach Mitchell Curry and his team thought it would be. The Wildcats would need to play their best baseball of the season in not one, but two of three games if they were to somehow advance past region 2-AAA number one seed Columbus High School.
Richmond Hill matched up fairly well in a game one 7-2 loss, taking the Blue Devils in to the sixth inning only down 3-1. Then in game two five errors, and an anemic batting line up by the Wildcats led to a 10-2 second game loss and put them back on the bus headed for home.
The double header started with Scott Strickland on the mound being matched up against the Blue Devils ace Zach Laughlin. Strickland pitched one of his better games of the season and was effective in scattering 7 hits and striking out 8 in five and two-thirds innings.
Columbus High catcher Chase Weems is headed to Alabama after this season on a full scholarship and in the first inning he showed why. His two run home run to center field staked his team to a 2-0 lead. It was one of only a few mistakes the Richmond Hill senior made on the night and he held the Blue Devils to just one other unearned run in the fourth then got a measure of revenge by striking out Weems looking on a back door slider in the fifth.
The Wildcats committed three errors behind Strickland while Laughlin was getting ground ball outs and working the corners to help him strand six Wildcat base runners in five innings of work. He would give up only one unearned run to Richmond Hill.
For the Cats senior second baseman Cameron Corbin had a good day at the plate going 2 for 4 with a double, a run scored, and a solo home run in the seventh inning to give the fans in attendance something to finally cheer about. Aaron Pittsley also went 2 for 3 with a run scored. While the Wildcats were putting the ball in play for most of the first game, and did manage eight hits, they just couldn’t get many clutch hits when they needed them.
In game two Matt Schlag got the start for the Wildcats and deserved a better fate as he too turned in a solid start. The Richmond Hill senior would strike out 10 batters on the night while giving up only eight hits but you couldn’t tell it from the scoreboard.
Six errors led to four unearned runs and the Blue Devils scored eight runs in the first three innings. To make matters worse Columbus starter Matt Taylor started on the mound and pitched three innings giving up only one hit. Some shaky control led to his early departure as he walked four Wildcat batters, but Richmond Hill could not take advantage.
The Wildcats loaded the bases in the first and third innings but managed just one run in the stretch, they managed just three hits in the night cap with Scott Strickland going 1 for 3 with an RBI; Aaron Pittsley 0 for 1 with an RBI; Matt Schlag 1 for 3 with an RBI; and Josh Futch 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Schlag would hold Columbus to just three runs the rest of the way but the early damage was too much for the Wildcats to overcome. Cameron Corbin pitched the final inning striking out the side. The twenty-one strikeouts the Wildcat rotation threw at Columbus had to give them reason to pause, and if it were not for the lack of offense and some shaky defense a different result was entirely possible.
"Columbus knew we were there" said Coach Curry at his season ending banquet. " We broke school baseball records for wins 19; team batting average .370; and RBI’s 198. - so we have a lot to be proud of this season".
They sure do.