April 24, 2012 — We all know the story, two outs, three-two count, bottom of the seventh … one can either be a hero, or be the victim of an onslaught of, “what if’s?”
Senior Viking Gabe Richmond took the more desired route, notching a game-winning single to bring home two teammates for a double dose of RBI goodness, as Rowan County defeated East Carter at home, 6-5.
Richmond said the storybook victory could provide the life his team needs to turn around its season.
“This was huge for us,” Richmond said. “Hopefully it will provide the spark we need to start winning more of these close games we’ve had.”
Deadlocked at one run apiece in the top of the third, the home matchup appeared to be headed down a painfully familiar trend for Rowan.
East Carter’s Connor Robinson capitalized on a pickoff attempt at first from the pitcher’s mound, rounding his way to third base before coming to a halt.
Richmond quickly recovered on the pitcher’s mound, picking up two strikeouts, only to see the Raiders score on another arrant throw to first, this time from the catcher.
A nice force-out at first bailed out the Rowan defense to fortunately end the frame with little damage done.
Offensively, the Vikes struggled at bat for the majority of the game, leaving several runners stranded in scoring position, including senior Viking Justin Lewis who subbed in for John Cornett on base duty following a lone single in the bottom of the third.
Several big hits by East pushed the deficit to 5-1 for the home team, leaving little hope for a victory lap.
Down four runs, the tide slowly began to shift in the sixth when Lewis completed a trip to third as a result of a key error by the Raiders, bringing in Tyler Arthur for the score.
Rowan County ended the inning with a fire of rekindled hope, attaining another run before ending the sixth to chip away the deficit, 5-3.
Head Coach Jason Davis commented on his team’s will and determination to hang in the game.
“We have had some issues hitting the ball at times,” Davis said. “But tonight our seniors came through in a big way for us. When we needed hits late in the game, we got them, and this is what we have been looking for to give our team some confidence.”
Davis’ bunch avoided catastrophe in the final inning when an East shot fell just short of the centerfield wall, resulting in a double instead.
A series of sharp defensive plays, including a strikeout by reliever Lewis, allotted Rowan County the opportunity to pull off the upset.
Things kicked of nicely for the Vikings in the push for a win when Shane Wages, Brayden Mosher and Tyler Thacker rallied the troops with three-straight singles.
Wages then put the pressure on East, scoring on a wild pitch before Harold Chapman was left looking, setting the stage for the photo ending.
Biting on a low pitch to set up the full count, Richmond shattered the memories of former disappointments, rocketing a single to the center field gap, sending Wages and Mosher in to put the exclamation on the big win.
“This was a team effort, and it’s just great to pick up the win,” Richmond said. “As a senior, these are the kinds of moments you dream of … it’s just awesome.”
Davis commented on his senior’s resilience after struggling on the mound.
“Even though Gabe didn’t have his best stuff on the mound today, he kept his composure.” Davis said. “I am so proud of the heart and determination we showed today, and it was great to see Gabe be a leader for us when we needed it most.”
The dramatics of Thursday night made way for another win on Friday night against Breathitt County, before falling in a close one to Bath County, 3-2, on Saturday.
Rowan now goes on a three-game road trip before it returns home on Friday for a matchup with Russell.
The Morehead News will have more Viking baseball action in this Friday’s sports.
Grant Stevens can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.