NEW BERN — All good things in life must come to an end. The New Bern Bears knew this — but they hoped the end would see them raising a state championship trophy.
New Bern fell 3-0 to Richmond Senior Friday at Boykin Field as the Raiders shutout the opposition for the third straight time in the postseason.
Richmond (23-6) will hit the road for its sectional round contest with Ashley on Tuesday. The Eagles advanced after upending Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament champion Scotland 5-3. The Fighting Scots finish their season with a 24-3 record.
“It’s tough, you know, every team except for one is going to experience what we are feeling right now,” New Bern coach Gary Smith said. “I’m very proud of the guys and I told them to feel good about themselves because we set a new standard for this program.”
New Bern out-hit the Raiders six to two, but all of the damage was self inflicted, as the Bears made four costly errors.
Whitman Barnes was solid, going six innings, allowing two hits, three runs (none earned) and striking out 10.
Richmond hurler Ryan Mercer, pitched his second complete-game shutout of the playoffs in the victory. Mercer extended his scoreless streak in the postseason to 14 innings.
“I had to really think about which pitch I was going to throw,” Mercer said. “I knew I had to keep throwing zeroes up there, but I knew we would score.”
Richmond coach Ricky Young was pleased with the senior’s performance.
“I thought against Jack Britt he was throwing harder and had better stuff,” Young said. “Tonight he pitched a better game. He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes.”
The first run in the game wasn’t scored until the fifth inning, which contained two of the Bears’ four errors, which led to all three Richmond runs.
Mikey Steele led off with a walk and Ethan Baucom was hit by a pitch. After a strikeout, Jeremy Smith’s bunt was picked up by Barnes. His throw to third sailed over the fielder’s head for an error, allowing Steele and Baucom to score. Smith would eventually score when Drew Butler struck out and New Bern was forced to throw Butler out at first on the play.
“I think people know what we are going to do, we are going to put pressure on the other team” Young said. “Late in a 0-0 game, teams are going to get tight making plays. That’s what happened tonight, we forced a wild throw trying to execute a bunt.”
New Bern’s best scoring chance came in the fourth with runners on first and second, when Cam Curlings tapped a bouncing ball toward first base that pulled the Raiders out of position, allowing Curlings to reach. Pinch runner Tyler Mincavage rounded third and attempted to score, but was thrown out at home.
“We let it get away from us there in the fourth,” Smith said. “The base running mistakes are probably what hurts me the most, because that’s so uncharacteristic of us.”
New Bern’s Matt Towarnicky, had the only extra-base hit of the game, a double which fell in between two Raiders in right-center field.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson contributed to this story. He can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com