The night began with an introduction of the Richmond Hill players, middle school, junior varsity, and varsity to the teams supporters and fans. Then came a tribute to a former supporter and fan, Jim Bayens. Bayens, who passed away in 2006, was a long time supporter of Wildcat baseball. That support was commemorated with the unveiling of a sign that will hang on the backstop in his honor. His son, and former Wildcat baseball coach, Mickey Bayens threw out the first pitch to start the game.
It was Cats Nite Out. A tradition Jim Bayens helped start as a Wildcat booster in the Home Run Club. He would have been proud looking down this night to see the large crowd in attendance and the tradition still strong, proud of the way his Wildcat team played as well.
Richmond Hill rode the strong right arm of senior Scott Strickland for five innings and came away with a 10-0 win. Strickland struck out ten in the five inning complete game shut out improving his record to 2-0. Bryce Mingledorf got the start for the Redskins and went two innings and took the loss. It was not only Cats Nite Out it was the "Battle for the Cup".
The inscription on the trophy indicates a tradition that was started in 2004 when then Bryan County head coach Al Butler called Coach Mitchell Curry with the idea that the two teams, which hadn’t played in several years, should meet once a year with the winner keeping the trophy and hosting the game the following year. The Redskins have been making the annual trek south ever since. Not that there were not bright spots of hope for the rest of their season, they were just up against the Wildcats ace and it was his night.
Strickland scattered the Redskins four hits, but he did have to work his way out of a few minor jams.
Bryan County had two runners on board in the first when Strickland issued his only two walks of the game after two were out. A passed ball and Wesley Wilkes stolen base had them both in scoring position but, as he did throughout, Strickland bore down and struck out Kurt Shuman to end the threat.
In the third, Redskins Cook and Wilkes hit back to back singles after two were out, but this time Strickland coaxed a ground ball to his short stop Steven Boaen for the final out. It was the second game in a row the Wildcats have played without a fielding error, a feat that coach Curry afterward couldn’t recall as ever happening during his tenure and he was as excited about that as he was Strickland’s stellar performance.
On the flip side, it was Bryan County’s five fielding errors that helped spark a Wildcat offense that only produced eight singles on the night. Two of them were the infield variety but it seemed all of them were timely. The Bryan County pitching core of Mingledorf, Justin Covington, and Andrew Cook deserved a better fate. Even the winning runs were produced on an error.
"Too many errors kept us out of the game," said Redsin Coach Al Butler. "Richmond Hill put the ball in play all night, and we failed to make the big play when we needed. We have a talented group of guys who are very capable of playing a complete game, so we must use the next few days to fine tune our game in order to get ready for our region schedule."
Richmond Hill came to the plate in the fifth inning with a 7-0 lead and Justin Goolsby led off with a single, Jeff Yeager followed with his second hit and Boaen got his second infield hit of the night to load the bases with nobody out. It looked bleak for Cook who had come in to relieve after Yeager’s hit. Things got worse when the next batter Cameron Corbin walked in a run.
With the winning run now in scoring position and nobody out, Cook needed a double play. He almost got two.
Strickland was up next and hit a sharp line drive to Myrick at second base but it was too sharp to double any of the Wildcat runners off and they all dove back to their respective bases. Nathan Kilburn was up next and also hit a sharp ground ball that was fielded nicely by Cook who went to home for the second out but the throw from the catcher to first base got by and went down the line as the winning runs crossed the plate uncontested. It was that kind of night for the Redskins, perhaps still weary from a week-end trip to the Atlanta area.
Speaking of Atlanta, the Redskins hit the big city by playing two games, versus Meadowcreek and South Cobb, in the area. In the South Cobb game, the Redskins lost 15-0.
"The guys came out flat for this first game," said Butler. "We had trouble finding the strike zone this morning and when we did find it, Cobb County hit it hard."
The Redskins came back strong with a 5-1 victory over Meadowcreek. Bryce Mingledorff broke the game open in the 6th inning with a two run double, and Justin Covington followed with a squeeze play adding an insurance run.
"This was a different squad than the one that took the field earlier," said Butler. "Ricky kept Meadowcreek off balance all afternoon striking out 6. A much better effort than earlier, and we look forward to a solid season."
Richmond Hill will host Brunswick tomorrow night at 5:30 and Bradwell Saturday at Noon. Savannah Christian comes to town Tuesday March 13 for a 5:30 p.m. start.
Bryan County will host South East Bulloch today at 4 p.m. and also host Tattnall County Friday March 9 at 6 p.m. They will then travel to Calvary Day on Tuesday March 13 at 4 p.m. for their first region game.