ROCKINGHAM — After welcoming two Greenville-area teams in rounds two and three, Richmond Senior gets to make a trek on U.S. Highway 264.
Richmond will battle J.H. Rose 7 p.m. today for the right to move into the 4A East Region final series. The Raiders will be gunning for their third straight trip to the region final.
“We have a lot of experience on the team, they know what’s at stake,” Richmond coach Ricky Young said.
For the first time in the postseason, Richmond will not be playing in the friendly confines of Raider Stadium. The team’s last road game was in the championship game of the Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational against West Brunswick, a 9-5 victory. Before that, Richmond lost on the road at Lumberton 3-1 on April 17.
Since the loss to the Pirates, the Raiders have reeled off 10 straight wins and are 20-6-1 overall. In the playoffs, Richmond stopped West Johnston 6-3, D.H. Conley 6-2 and South Central 4-3 in 10 innings.
James Buie had four hits in the victory over the Falcons, including the game-winning double in the bottom of the 10th with two outs to drive home courtesy runner Dylan Callahan. Taylor McLean added three hits in the win and Bradley Brown had two.
In the team’s three playoff games, Ethan Baucom is hitting .500 with three runs batted in. Taylor McLean and Brown are both batting .444 in the postseason. Brown has three RBIs and McLean has knocked in two. Buie is now hitting .429 wtih two RBIs.
The Rampants also had a little bit of a stumble in the middle of the season, dropping two of four games. Following a 7-0 loss to Alexander Central on April 21, Rose has won six in a row to improve to 23-2 on the year. In the postseason, it has defeated both South View and Pinecrest by the score of 6-3 before taking out Hoggard 6-4 Tuesday night.
Young expects his team to battle Rose’s ace Mason Keen, while he will trot his No. 1 pitcher, Nic Bullard, to the mound. Keen, an ECU signee, is 7-2 this season with a 2.57 ERA. He has 58 strikeouts in 60 innings. Bullard, like Keen, is 7-2 on the year.
“He’s tall and lanky,” Young said about Keen. “He’s a lot like the pitchers we have faced this year. We have faced a lot of good pitching this season and in the state playoffs.”
Keen has also been lethal with a bat. He is hitting .369 with seven doubles, a home run and 20 RBIs. Bailey Sugg is Rose’s top hitter, batting .436 with six home runs and 36 runs batted in. J.D. Clark has a .423 average with four home runs and 33 RBIs.
“Rose has always been a good hitting team,” Young said. “They will try to beat you to death with balls to the gap. RV (Ronald Vincent) is a legend. He knows the game. They have that tradition behind them.”
The winner of tonight’s clash will get home-field advantage in the 4A East Region final against either Panther Creek (17-9) or Millbrook (18-9).
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.