By Shawn Stinson
February 28, 2014
ROCKINGHAM — Cody Leviner had to put his previous at-bat out of his mind.
The Richmond Senior shortstop had flied out against Terry Sanford reliever Justin Walke in the previous frame.
During this showdown, Leviner stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Leviner fouled off the first pitch from Walke before ripping his next offering into right field for the game-winning single to lift Richmond to a 4-3 victory over Terry Sanford in nine innings.
“I wanted to come through and just to win it for the team,” Leviner said. “I couldn’t think about what happened before because I had to come though for the team.”
Brandon Gibson started the game-winning rally with a double off the left-field fence with one out. Terry Sanford coach Sam Guy elected to intentionally walk John Taylor and Mike Rush to load the bases to set up Leviner’s heroics.
“That was a big hit,” Richmond coach Ricky Young said. “I told him to relax up there because there was no place to put him. They couldn’t walk him.”
Leviner wasn’t the only bright spot on the night for the Raiders. Starting pitcher Nic Bullard allowed just one hit — a solo home run to Joe Ingle — in 5 1/3 innings. Bullard walked four and struck out seven.
After using three pitchers in Richmond’s season opener versus Porter Ridge, Young went deep into his staff against Terry Sanford (0-2). In addition to using Bullard, Young called on Cody Mullen, Dylan Carpenter and Joe Butler, who picked up his first varsity victory.
Carpenter was forced to pitch out of a jam in the top of the seventh. Walke drew an inning-opening walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Conrad Black’s attempted sacrifice bunt was fielded cleanly by Carpenter, but his throw to third was late. After coaxing Austin Warren to pop out for the first out, Carpenter got out of threat when Sam Zahran grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
“We talked about having pitching depth,” Young said. “We got great relief tonight, everyone did a good job.”
Richmond (1-0-1) scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead after Ingle’s solo shot in the top half of the inning. Bradley Brown had an RBI-single and Rush recorded a sacrifice fly. Terry Sanford tied the contest with two runs in the sixth without notching a hit, using three hits and an error.
Taylor McLean, James Buie and Brown each had two hits for the Raiders. As a team, Richmond recorded 10 hits, but stranded 18 runners.
“I told the team regardless if we won or lost I could tell they were trying,” Young said. “We are going to get better.”
Richmond will return to action 5 p.m. Tuesday when it travels to West Montgomery.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.