ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior coach Ricky Young faced his dugout before the bottom of the first inning and told his team they could not afford to wait until the fourth inning to start playing.
The players got the message.
The Raiders scored nine runs over the first two innings Wednesday en route to a 13-3 win over Scotland in a semifinal game of the Southeastern Conference tournament. The game ended in six innings on the mercy rule after Richmond scored on an error.
Ethan Baucom was responsible for seven of the nine runs that came home in those two innings. He crushed a ball over the center field wall for a one-out grand slam in the opening frame, and hit a three-run homer to almost the same spot behind the fence in the next inning.
Baucom said it was one of the best feelings he has ever had playing baseball. And at the start of the day, he wasn’t even sure if he would hit well. Baucom said he had a rough batting practice before the game, when he tried to hit balls out of the park, he hit grounders and pop-ups instead.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball good at all, and then I just stopped thinking about it and got to the plate and had 0-2, and I just said if he throws anything close I’m going to hit it,” Baucom said. “So I had a two-strike approach, just put the bat on it and it carried.”
The Raiders (16-6-1) also had home runs from pitcher Cody Leviner and James Buie. Buie’s was inside-the-park, as his curling line drive landed just inside the line before carrying deep into foul territory. As Buie headed to third, the throw from right field went past the cut off man, allowing Buie to finish his sprint at home plate.
“We kind of set the tone early the way we swung the bat, and it gave Cody a cushion so we could go right at the hitters. Anytime you get four in the first, that’s a good start,” Young said.
Scotland started Grant English on the mound before pulling him in favor of H.B. Stone after Leviner’s home run to start the second inning. Scotland coach Jamie Coleman said Richmond capitalized on his side’s mistakes.
“They put a good cut on some bad pitches. We left some balls up and they punished us for it,” Coleman said. “They’re not the leading team in this conference for nothing. They make you pay when you make a mistake.
The Scots scored two runs in the third inning and another in the sixth, but were not able to generate enough offense to find a way back into the game. Scotland had five hits as a team and left four on base.
“We had plenty of outs left and plenty of opportunities, but we just didn’t put it together,” Coleman said.
Richmond advances to face Pinecrest, a 7-2 winner of Lumberton in the other semifinal clash, in Friday’s SEC tournament championship at Raider Field. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.