The pair battled several times in the Three Rivers Conference as coaches at West Columbus and Red Springs. Now they clash guiding Richmond Senior and Purnell Swett in the 4A Southeastern Conference and round 1 went to Young and his Raiders.
But it wasn’t easy.
Taylor McLean grounded a 2-2 pitch into left field for a single to score pinch runner John Taylor with the go-ahead run and pinch hitter Nic Bullard plated an insurance run on a ground out in the top of the seventh as Richmond rallied for a 4-2 win Tuesday night.
“I was actually looking for a bunch of curves, but when it got 2-2, I knew he was going to throw me a fastball,” McLean said. “As long as I put it in play that was all I wanted to do.”
For the majority of the contest it appeared as if Purnell Swett was going to open SEC with a 2-0 mark.
Richmond’s Bradley Brown ripped a shot up the middle to lead off the seventh, but the ball deflected off Purnell Swett pitcher Austin Lee Locklear to first baseman Alex Locklear for the first out. James Buie followed with a ground ball to short, but Dakota Chavis was unable to field the ball cleanly for an error — opening the door for the Raiders.
Pinch runner Mike Rush moved to second on a wild pitch and Jacob Sears tied the game at 2 with a bloop single to left. McDonald called on Jonah Sampson out of the Purnell Swett bullpen. Sampson hit Brandon Gibson with a pitch and then surrendered the go-ahead single to McLean.
“These guys aren’t going to quit,” Young said. “After last season and all the experience in the playoffs, they have been through situations like this.”
Bullard retired the Rams in order in the bottom of the seventh to earn the save. Bradley Brown picked up the pitching victory, allowing five hits, walking three and striking out three.
“That’s baseball,” McDonald said. “The baseball gods didn’t smile on us in the seventh. They rolled some balls in good spots there.”
Despite the loss, McDonald feels Purnell Swett is headed in the right direction in his first year in Pembroke. The Rams were just 6-15 overall last season and 2-8 in the SEC.
“We believe we can play with anybody, we just have to finish the deal,” McDonald said. “We did at Scotland Friday night. I don’t look at tonight as a step back. I feel good where we are and where we headed.”
Richmond will return to action 7 p.m. today when West Montgomery visits Raider Field.
Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.