Jackets even the score, rout Raiders

Apr. 16—Pinecrest appears set to run off with the title in the Sandhills Athletic Conference baseball race again this spring, but the battle to be the top 3A team in the league is still very much up for grabs.

Lee County faced a must-win game in that race Friday night, when Richmond arrived in town for a rematch of a game earlier in the week, which the Raiders had won by a single run. The rematch at Norman Oldham Stadium saw Richmond take an early lead, but then the Yellow Jackets swamped them in a 16-4 rout.

Lee (12-6, 5-3 SAC) trailed 3-0 going to the bottom of the second inning, but a five-run half-inning put the Jackets in front to stay. Lee was up 11-4 after five innings of play, and then walked off in the sixth when Walker McDuffie hit a grand slam to put the Jackets up by a dozen.

Lee is one game behind Richmond (10-7, 6-3) for second place in the league behind Pinecrest (15-3, 7-1), but what is more important for the Jackets is that they are tied with Scotland (8-6, 5-3) for both third place and for the top 3A spot in the conference. Pinecrest crushed the Scots 16-0 in another Friday game to help Lee pull even. Lee and Scotland play twice this week, here Tuesday and Friday in Laurinburg.

But last Friday night, the only concern for Lee was the Raiders, the only SAC team that has beaten Pinecrest this season. They turned two walks and a James Eason single into a 1-0 lead out of the gate, and then made it 3-0 in the second, thanks to two singles sandwiched around a walk, followed by a sacrifice fly.

The bottom of the second inning saw Lee solve Raider pitcher Jason Walker. Landon Miles opened the frame with a single, which was followed by a man reaching on an error and then hits by Blake Carlyle, Joshua Hall, and Seth Beal. After Richmond finally recorded an out, a two-run double by BJ Brown put the Jackets in front 4-3, and two walks, the second by Miles, forced in another run.

After this, Lee rolled. Starting pitcher Andrew Stanfield set the Raiders down 1-2-3 in the third, and Lee scored two more in its half of the inning, on a Luke Sheets RBI single and a McDuffie groundout. Blane McDonald pitched a scoreless fourth against Richmond and Lee added another run to lead 8-3.

The Raiders got another run in the following inning, but Lee answered right back with three. Richmond staved off the mercy rule at that point, but the Jackets got there in the sixth after McDuffie's slam.

McDuffie went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and five RBI. Brown was 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and three RBI. Hall had a perfect day at the plate, 1-for-1 with three walks and three runs scored. Sheets and Beal scored two runs each.

Eason was 2-for-3 with with two RBI to lead the Raiders, who had just five hits as a team.