Head coach Mitchell Curry set a goal for his team back in February of being in a position to "play in May". Richmond Hill achieved that goal Friday by clinching at least second place in the sub-region with a solidly played 9-5 win over Benedictine and a nail biting 7-6 win on Saturday against Burke County.
A late score received just before press time had Richmond Hill winning their sixteenth game this season in a non-region match-up at Wildcat Field 15-4 in six innings. It was senior night for the Wildcats, their last regular season home game of their careers. Details of that game will be in the weekend edition of the Bryan County News.
The Cats will play their final regular season game Friday at Hephzibah, 4:30 p.m. start, and would be sub-region champions with a Liberty County win over South Effingham on the same day. The Panthers, Benedictine and Burke County all have 4-5 sub-region records going in to the final week of play, while Richmond Hill and South Effingham are at 7-2 in the sub-region 3S-AAA.
Richmond Hill did an about face in the win against Benedictine by following up their 10 error loss at Liberty County with an errorless performance on Friday. They pitched well and stroked 13 hits in one of their best play games of the season. Afterward coach Curry struggled to explain what the difference was.
"It’s amazing...these looked like two different teams. You get a feel early on sometimes how you think the team will do and, against Liberty, they were in the dugout and everyone was talking about the tragedy at Virginia Tech and I guess were not focused. Today was just the opposite."
Matt Schlag took the hill for the Cats and picked up the win (4-1) in five and one third innings of work. He struck out six, and walked five while giving up seven hits. After the Cadets struck for two runs in the first, Schlag shut them down over the next four innings while his teammates gained a 5-2 advantage.
He was relieved after some trouble in the sixth by Cameron Corbin. The senior reliever went to the mound from his position at second base on a brisk night and got two fly balls to strand the Cadets with the bases loaded and kept his team holding a slim 7-5 lead. Corbin would finish the game in the seventh by recording another scoreless inning of relief.
Corbin has now worked in six innings of the last three games without giving up a run. He relieved Scott Strickland in a tight contest against Burke County and preserved the win. His emergence as the late inning, go to guy in the rotation could be a huge factor for the team during post season play.
In the same way the pitching staff has been all around solid, the Wildcat line up has become very productive with their bats. There have been no easy outs for opposing pitchers as of late and they spread the wealth around again on Friday, Saturday, and Monday.
In the three games, the Wildcats pounded out a total of 37 hits. All of the starters in two of those games had at least one hit. It seemed during the three game stretch that someone coming to the plate batting in the seventh, eighth, or ninth spot in the batting order was as likely to drive in a run as someone from the top of the lineup.
At the bottom of the order, Josh Futch hit a solo home run against Burke County’s Brandon Love that figured big in the game. Jeff Yeager had a 2 hit game against Benedictine as well.The top of the lineup is hot as well. Cameron Corbin and John Johnson continue setting the plate at the top while Scott Strickland and Matt Schlag follow with the power numbers. In the middle of the lineup, Justin Goolsby continues his clutch hitting with men in scoring position with a couple of key doubles in the series. The biggest hit was Aaron Pittsley’s seventh inning walk-off, bases loaded single over a drawn in outfield to break a 6-6 tie and help send his team to the post season.
The Cats will play in May.