ROCKINGHAM — After his team’s hard-fought victory over rival Scotland, Richmond Senior coach Ricky Young let out a little yell in right field.
Young found out Purnell Swett defeated Lumberton giving Richmond its second straight Southeastern Conference regular season championship.
But the Raiders’ 8-6 win to clinch the title didn’t come easy.
Trailing 4-0, then 6-4, Richmond chipped away at Scotland’s advantage before scoring three times in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good.
“They key to the game was experience,” Young said. “Even after falling behind the guys were up, it’s because we have been in so many big games. They’ve been in this situation before.”
Cody Leviner started the game-winning rally with a double down the right-field line. Mike Rush drew a base on balls. After Scotland reliever Nolan Pierce struck out Nic Bullard, Bradley Brown followed with a seeing-eye single, pushing Leviner across with the tying run.
Then Young went to his favorite play — the squeeze bunt.
And James Buie knew it was coming before he stepped into the batter’s box.
“I knew he was going to give it to me,” Buie said. “I was ready to do it because we needed to get the run home. I had it in my mind I was going to bunt.”
Buie executed the play to perfection and dropped the bunt down the first-base line as Rush raced home with the go-ahead run.
Young said he gave Buie the bunt sign on the first pitch because he believe Scotland might be thinking Richmond would attempt to steal.
“I also wanted to stay away from the double play,” Young said.
Ethan Baucom closed out the scoring with a double down the left-field line to score courtesy runner Dylan Callahan.
Leviner earned the victory in relief of Buie. Young thought Buie pitched well but was the victim of poor defense. The Raiders made six errors in the contest, leading to four unearned runs.
“I had James and Cody rested and ready to go,” Young said. “Before the game I told James to give me everything in his tank and I think he did. If we make some plays behind him…he didn’t pitch bad.”
Richmond (15-6-1 overall, 8-2 SEC) will get a bye in next week’s Southeastern Conference tournament and will face the winner of the No. 4-No. 5 seed contest. Scotland will return to action 7 p.m. today at home against Lumberton.
Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.