Richmond Hill took advantage of Liberty County’s errors Friday to defeat the Panthers, 11-1, in a Region 2A-AAAA regular-season game.
On a rain-soaked night, the Wildcats also honored former Liberty County Panther Joe Watkins during pregame ceremonies. Watkins, who was a freshman at Georgia Southern, died from injuries sustained in a November automobile accident.
“Joe was a great player for Liberty and (it was) just a real blessing to see a player with his talent level and work ethic come through here,” Liberty County head coach Joel Moody said.
The Wildcats also saluted the military, and four 3rd Infantry Division soldiers threw out the first pitches.
Liberty drew first blood when its lead-off hitter was hit by a pitch. However, after the runner reached first, the rain picked up and the game was delayed 25 minutes.
The Panthers later took a 1-0 lead when DeShaun Collins hit a deep RBI double to left field. Collins tried to score on a passed ball but was tagged out.
Richmond Hill took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Ryan Esienwen slapped a two-run single.
The Wildcats added to their lead when Peyton Carter doubled home a run, making the game 3-1.
Liberty pitcher Curtis Michalowciz struck out four batters in four innings.
“He kept us in the game. We just didn’t do a very good job of hitting the ball. His curve ball was really working well tonight, and for the first three innings it was a close game. He wanted to stay in even as the game became out of reach,” Moody said.
Richmond Hill broke the game open in the fourth and fifth innings, taking advantage of Liberty throwing and fielding errors.
“Defensively, freshman outfielder Vince Smith made a really great diving catch that certainly saved some runs and was a big play,” Moody said.
Collins had the only hit and RBI for the Panthers. Liberty falls to 2-6 overall and 0-1 in Region 2A-AAAA play.
“We have a really big region week coming up. Tuesday, we will host Brunswick at home. Friday, we go to Wayne County. Both of those teams are very strong teams so we have to be ready to play our best baseball,” the LCHS coach said.
In other baseball news, the Bradwell Tigers postponed Friday’s home double-header against Windsor Forest due to rain.
They plan to reschedule the game as soon as possible and will travel to Beach High on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. game.