ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior’s Ricky Young and Purnell Swett’s Bryan McDonald have squared off several times throughout the years.
So it was a chess match between the two veteran coaches in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With a runner on third and one out, McDonald knew what Young was thinking — squeeze bunt.
He just didn’t know when.
Young called for it on the first pitch and pinch hitter Joseph Griffith dropped the bunt down the first-base line scoring Taylor McLean with the game-winning run to lift Richmond to a 3-2 victory Monday night at Raider Field.
“I knew it was coming, I just didn’t expect it on the first pitch,” McDonald said. “I knew it was happening, I had a pitchout called on the second pitch.”
Young figured McDonald was expecting the bunt and elected to roll the dice on the first pitch with Griffith fresh off the bench to hit for Ethan Baucom.
“Joseph is a very good bunter and he has been seeing the ball very good lately,” Young said. “Taylor did a good job getting on and James (Buie) had a good sacrifice to get him over to third.”
Griffith’s bunt allowed Cody Leviner to pick up the win. The junior hurled a complete game, allowing six hits, a walk, no earned runs, while striking out eight.
Leviner admitted to maturing and not letting some defensive miscues get to him.
“It’s a big difference from last year,” Leviner said. “I trust my defense and I know I just have to keep getting ground balls. Everyone is going to make mistakes. I just have to trust my defense.”
Richmond improved to 6-2-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Purnell Swett dropped its first game of the season to fall to 7-1 and 1-1.
The Raiders got on the scoreboard first in the second as McLean had a lead-off double. Following two strikeouts, Brandon Gibson doubled home McLean.
Purnell Swett took advantage of two Richmond throwing errors to score single runs in the fifth and sixth.
The first came when Richmond catcher Bradley Brown attempted to throw out Austin Locklear at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Tyler Mayor. Brown’s throw sailed into left field, allowing Locklear to score.
After an run-scoring single by Cody Mullen in the bottom of the fifth put Richmond up 2-1, courtesy runner Phoenix Maynor raced home from second on Buie’s throwing error to tie the contest.
“Cody Mullen had a big hit to drive in a run and made a great play deep in the hole,” Young said. “We had a lot of people contribute tonight.”
Richmond is scheduled to return to action 7 p.m. Friday when Lumberton visits Raider Field.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.