In a game full of more plots, subplots, twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel could provide, Richmond Hill’s second meeting with South Effingham on Friday at Wildcat Field had everything except the desired final result. Richmond Hill squandered a 10 run first inning lead, and a four run lead with one inning to go, only to see the state ranked Mustangs tie it up in the seventh and win it in the eighth 20-15.
It was not a game for the faint at heart or those that like a good old fashion pitchers duel. This game was more like watching fireworks, and Richmond Hill started the fuse in the first inning.
The big blow was a grand slam home run off of Matt Zettler by designated hitter Nathan Kilburn, but it was surrounded by eight other base hits by his teammates who had batted around and forced the starter out of the game with just one out. In similar fashion, the Mustangs saved theirs for the end of the game.
Fourteen runs in the final three innings against three different Wildcat pitchers erased all memory of that unbelievable first inning, but, even as they had comeback in the sixth with five runs, the Wildcats came painfully close to finishing it in the seventh.
With Jacob Thrash on the mound in the seventh to try and end a game - started by Raul Rodriquez and followed by Alex Tucker and Ben Auger as they tried to hold their explosive opponents - the Mustangs’ Jace Daley tied the game with a two out bases loaded double down the right field line. The Mustangs countered with one of their pitching aces, Colby May.
Richmond Hill gave May a scare in the bottom half when Kilburn walked to start the inning and pinch runner Darius Lofton was advanced to third on Logan Wolfe’s single. But May was bailed out by his short stop when Tyler Mitchell hit a hard ground ball to the infielders left that was nicely fielded and the throw just beat Mitchell to the bag. May held the Wildcats scoreless the rest of the way and wound up the winner when Mustang Chris Zittrour provided the final nights fireworks with a three run home run in the eighth.
In what was seemingly a tight strike zone being called by the home plate umpire, both pitching staffs were getting hit hard. The Wildcats finished with 18 hits to the Mustangs’ 16. A Wildcat staff that prides itself in throwing strikes gave up 13 base on balls, and the defense committed a couple of critical errors that ended up costing them runs. In the final analysis, that was the difference.
Richmond Hill kept the crowd entertained however and after the Mustangs rebounded from their first inning shock by scoring five runs of their own in the second inning.
Sophomore catcher Cody Rushing drove in a run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly that followed a John Johnson single then in the fifth inning Rushing drilled a two out three run homer that initiated another pitching change by the Mustang staff. May started the next inning with a solo home run and his team mates followed with four more runs to keep them just close enough going to the seventh.
Providing the fireworks for Richmond Hill: Tyler Mitchell (3-5, rbi, 3 runs), Cody Crow (1-4, 2 runs), Jeremey Goolsby (2-5, rbi), Raul Rodriguez (2-4, 4 rbi, 2 runs), John Johnson (2-3, 2 runs), Nathan Kilburn (2-4 HR 4 rbi), Cody Rushing (1-4 HR 4 rbi), Jacob Thrash (3-5, 1 run) and Logan Wolfe (2-4, 1 run).
The Wildcats (9-8, 0-5) will be at Benedictine on Friday, 4 p.m. start, before traveling to Burke County Saturday, 1p.m. start.