Momentum can make all the difference in the world for a team with championship hopes, and it’s something the Fighting Scots baseball team has been building all season long.
In a decisive 10-1 win over the arch rival Richmond Raiders Thursday night, not only did Scotland clinch the 4-A southeastern conference tournament championship, they succeeded in building their momentum to a fever pitch. And with the 4-A state playoffs slated to begin Friday May 11th, momentum can and will mean everything.
“You have to credit these players with sustaining their solid play all season long,” said Scotland coach Tommy Britt, whose Fighting Scot squad finished the regular season with a 22-2 regular season record and perfect conference record. “Our regular season mark is a tribute to the momentum that they created, and let’s hope we can keep it going when we need it most.”
The Raiders have had a stellar 2012 season by and large, compiling a 21-5 record, but the Fighting Scots led by pitcher Curt Britt have had their number in each of the three meetings between them. And in their conference tournament championship-deciding game, Scotland had it’s biggest win yet over Richmond.
In the top of the fourth inning, a wild pitch by Britt led to the Raiders scoring their only run of the game. It was also the only run they’ve scored on Britt for the entire season, and aside from that one misstep, Britt was every bit as dominant as the Raiders have grown accustomed to seeing. Through five complete innings, Britt allowed one run on one hit with a single walk, and also struck out six batters.
While Britt took care of business from the pitcher’s mound, the Fighting Scot offense was scoring runs in bunches, utilizing a combination of clutch hitting and aggressive base-running to jump up big on the Raiders.
Though the Fighting Scots got out to an early lead in the first inning with a Tim Chavis infield single, it was in the third inning when Scotland’s bats really got rolling. A three hit, three run third was sparked by a double from the bat of Hayden Buffkin, who scored from second base when Will Adams hit a double of his own on the very next at-bat. Two batters later, designated hitter Johnny Mintz cleared the bags with a two-RBI double.
Richmond pitcher Jacob Sears faced eight batters in the third inning, and by the time he was pulled with two outs left in the fourth, he had thrown over 80 pitches on the evening. The Scotland offense had another three run, three hit performance in the fourth inning and were led in batting Thursday night by Bufkin (3-5, RBI), Adams (1-3, RBI, 2 BBs) and Mintz (2-4, 3 RBIS).
To add insult to injury, the Fighting Scots also collected four runs off of Richmond fielder errors, with the final coming in the sixth inning when Kyle Ricard scored after the Raiders failed to field a one-hop ground ball in the infield.
“I told my guys before the game about how important it was for this team to cap our season off right, and that’s exactly what we did tonight,” Britt said. “Our pitching has been great this year, and when our hitters can provide a cushion for them, it takes the pressure off them and makes it easier for them to hit their spots.”
Because of this season’s success, Scotland has earned the right to host a first-round playoff game against a team to be determined next Friday night at McCoy Field. That game will begin at 7:00 p.m.