The Red Devils had done it again.
Five days after scoring six runs with two outs in the seventh to force extras with Freedom Christian, the Red Springs baseball team rallied once more in a similar fashion, plating three runs in their last at-bat to beat St. Pauls 8-7 in Tuesday’s Three Rivers Conference opener.
“I can’t take many more of these,” Red Springs coach Chris Howell said after the Red Devils improved to 6-0. “There’s just something special about this group and they believe they can win every ballgame. They always give it all they’ve got.”
Trailing 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh, the Red Devils got something going with two outs and a runner on first against Bulldogs reliever Dustin Canady. Zach Jones singled to put runners at the corners and Caleb McNeill followed that up with a run-scoring shot to center.
With the winning run on second and facing a two-strike count, Red Springs’ Jedarian Lesane bounced an infield chopper to short that was thrown over the head of St. Pauls first baseman Kendall Lowery-Ivey. Jones and McNeill crossed the plate for the final tally after the throw sailed out of play.
“You’ve got to tip your cap to those guys for not giving up,” said St. Pauls first-year coach Kelly Chavis. “It was a back and forth battle. We were one pitch here or there from winning this one. When you’re leading by two runs heading to the (bottom of the) seventh, you feel pretty good about things. We just airmailed one.”
The Bulldogs (3-3, 0-1) squandered three leads in the game, the second coming in the bottom of the fifth after Canady replaced Kirkland Locklear in a hold situation with St. Pauls nursing a 5-4 lead. Red Springs punched across the tying run on Canady’s second wild pitch in the fifth before St. Pauls countered with single runs in the sixth and seventh to lead, 7-5.
Dillon Locklear went the distance for the Red Devils, scattering eight hits with six strikeouts. Four of the seven runs he gave up were unearned, including both in the top of the first on a routine play that would’ve ended the inning.
“Our defense has to get a lot better,” Howell said after the Red Devils made four errors. “But we did enough to win.”
Despite appearing out of gas on the mound in the top of the sixth, Locklear (3-0) came back out for the seventh and fanned K.J. McBryde for a third time to end a scoring threat. Red Springs’ bats were hot up to that point with nine hits and Howell wanted to see if the bottom of his lineup had any of last week’s magic left in it.
“Dillon knew this was his game and we know he wanted to stay out there,” Howell said. “I had to let him have it and give our offense a chance.”
Zach Jones reached base in all four plate appearances and drove in Red Springs’ first run in the second with a two-out single to left center. From the No. 2 hole, Malik Johnson contributed a single, an RBI double and a key walk in the fourth.
Locklear and Daquan Blue combined for five of the Bulldogs’ eight hits.
The Red Devils, who have already reached half of last season’s win total, travel to East Columbus on Friday. St. Pauls returns to action Thursday for a non-conference home game against Jack Britt.