With two games now under their belts, albeit one of them was a pre-season practice game loss to Savannah Christian, head coach Mitchell Curry has to be fairly pleased with the results. The pitching is what he thought it would be and the rest isn’t so bad either. On Monday night in Swainsboro the Wildcats rebounded nicely beating the always-tough Tigers on their own turf for a season starting 8-4 win.
The Savannah Christian game was basically a showcase for looking at as many pitchers as possible and when the Wildcats top projected pitchers were on the mound they were good. Only a couple of rocky innings made the difference in the 10-6 loss, but on Monday night - when everything they did on the diamond this early season really counted for something - they shined.
Richmond Hill ace Scott Strickland overcame a bumpy three run first inning where two walks and an error led to a three run head start for the Tigers but then settled down and held them scoreless the next three innings.
Matt Graney a junior and the only left-handed reliever in the bullpen pitched well in 2 2/3 innings of relief with two strikeouts and two base on balls. But after two were out in the final inning a couple of walks and an error had a run in and one baserunner in scoring position. Coach Curry had seen this Tiger team come back on him before and wasted no time going to the bullpen. Matt Schlag got the final strike out for the save. Head coach Mitchell Curry praised all three afterward.
"Scott got out to a bit of a rough start but this is always a good hitting team so I told him to just take away the freebies. When he did that he pitched a great game. Graney did a good job too but I know how that team can come back and we wanted to get Schlag some work anyway. We had some timely hitting and the defense helped out as well so we just about got everything done we wanted to this first game"
Strickland showed some of his 2006 form in the third when he struck out the side. The Wildcat senior picked up the win and would finish with 5 strikeouts and 2 base on balls. None of the three first inning runs were earned, but Scott would need some help from his teammates to get them back in it.
After two Wildcat walks in the second inning catcher John Johnson’s ground-out rbi got the Wildcats on the board. The next inning lead-off man Josh Futch led off with a no doubt rainbow of a home run over the left field fence and two batters later DH Nathan Kilburn stroked a two rbi double to tie the game. The Wildcat bats were starting to heat up.
After Steven Boaen led off the next inning with a walk Josh Futch showed he wasn’t thinking about his home run in his previous at bat, but coach Curry was. The Richmond Hill senior fouled off a bunt attempt on the first pitch and drew a look of incredulity from the coaching box at third base. He deposited the next pitch over the left centerfield wall for back-to-back jacks and a two run Wildcat lead.
After back-to-back singles by Matt Schlag and Aaron Pittsley, Jeremy Goolsby walked in a run with the bases loaded and John Johnson delivered a two rbi single up the middle to finish the scoring for the Wildcats. The defense would help them preserve the lead.
Third baseman Matt Schlag had to rush a swinging bunt that dribbled down the third base line in the sixth inning and made a perfect throw to the stretched out Goolsby at first for a crucial out. In the seventh freshman shortstop Steven Boaen dove to his left to snag a hard hit ground ball and got back to his feet just in time to throw the runner out. Jake Dudley in right field and Josh Futch in center also made a couple of good catches in those last two innings. The Wildcat defense committed only two errors in the game, a focus of improvement for the team this year.
Richmond Hill will play at Johnson High School on Thursday March 1 at 4 p.m. then will be at Groves on Friday March 2, also a 4 p.m. start.
Cats Nite Out - the traditional home opener will be Monday March 5th vs. Bryan County with the junior varsity starting at 4 p.m. and the Varsity at 6 p.m.