ROCKINGHAM — It seems any mistake against Richmond County’s baseball team always proves costly, and Fuquay-Varina errors in the bottom of the sixth were the difference in Game 1 of the 4A East Regional best-of-three series.
Fuquay held a lead through five innings, but the two misplays in the deciding inning made way for Richmond’s tying and go-ahead runs in a 3-2 win Thursday night in Rockingham.
Richmond County extended its win streak to 28 straight. Fuquay will host Game 2 Friday at 7 p.m., hoping a win can force a Saturday 7 p.m. Game 3 back at Richmond County.
“We played as poor as we’ve played in a while and we still only lost3-2 – so that’s the good news,” Fuquay coach Milton Senter said. “The bad news is we’ve got to win two in a row. But if the guys are who I think they are, they’ll have short memories, come back tomorrow and refocus and see if we can win two in a row.”
Richmond County (28-1) started righty Cody Leviner and Fuquay-Varina (24-4) sent lefty Garrett Suggs to the mound Thursday.
Through three innings, Suggs changed his speeds effectively and had allowed no base runners while Leviner, who kept batters off-balance with his breaking ball, had given up just one hit.
Fuquay got on the board in the top of the fourth inning as an RBI single by first baseman Nick Yarborough drove in shortstop D.J. Burt from third. Burt walked, stole second and then advanced to third on a sacrifice hit.
Two batters later, Fuquay went up 2-0. Jordan Bissette swung and missed on an inside pitch that got dribbled away from the catcher, allowing Bissette to reach first and Yarborough to score from third.
Suggs gave up a double in the bottom of the fourth after retiring the first 11 batters in order.
Then Fuquay’s first error – a dropped ball at second base on a double-play ball – happened after a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth. A sacrifice bunt moved the two runners to second and third, and in the next at-bat a wild pitch scored Sears.
Suggs struck out two to end the inning, and Fuquay led 2-1 going to the top of the sixth.
“They made some nice plays – a couple of diving catches that were very important,” Senter said.
Righty Brett Daniels replaced Suggs, who gave up just two hits and struck out five in five innings, to pitch the bottom of the sixth. A leadoff double by Richmond’s Jeremy Smith gave new life to the Raiders.
A single by Bradley Brown fell into right field and Stuart couldn’t field it clean off the bounce, allowing Smith to score.
Burt committed a two-out error to put runners on first and second. Richmond’s Taylor McLean singled to score the Raiders’ go-ahead run.