STANDISH — Keys to success for the Richmond High School baseball team this season included solid defense, aggressive base running and working opponent pitch counts.

On Tuesday against top-seeded Searsport at St. Joseph’s College in the Class D South regional final, the Vikings did those exact things to the No. 2 Bobcats in a 6-2 victory.

The Vikings, who face Bangor Christian in the Class D title game back on Larry Mahaney Diamond on Saturday at 1 p.m., stole seven bases on eight attempts, committed just two errors and forced Richmond (16-3) ace Zach Small to throw 85 pitches over just four innings.

“They were doing the things that we have done this year, and they had the right formula, putting the ball in play, running the bases and putting pressure on us,” Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said. “We just didn’t rise to the occasion. Things we haven’t done all year, we did today. We don’t make that many errors, and usually we have our pitcher’s back. Today we didn’t.”

“Five errors gives them a lot, maybe take away five runs and it is a whole different game,” said Brendan Emmons, one of just two seniors on this year’s Richmond squad.

Key play

It was a close game through three innings, with Searsport (16-3) holding a 2-1 lead. In the Vikings fourth, one frame after forcing Small to throw 25 pitches, Searsport again worked the counts. A walk to Mitchell Philbrick started the inning, and one-out singles by Liam MacMillan and pinch hitter George Dakin loaded the bases.

Small struck out the next hitter, and watched as No. 9 man Isaiah Runci hit a slow roller along the first-base line. Richmond first baseman Danny Stewart charged the ball and decided to go to the bag. Runci hustled out of the box and just beat Stewart as Philbrick and MacMillan scored to give Searsport a 4-1 lead.

“It is a weird kind of play, and you just have to make a decision in a split second and he decided to go the bag,” Gardner said. “(Runci) hustled down the line. Searsport makes you work and you make a mistake, they are ready to capitalize.”

Moments later, a balk scored the fifth run for Searsport, and Small was finished after tossing another 35 pitches.

On the other side, Searsport pitcher Charlie Spiegel was right around the plate throughout, with Richmond oftentimes swinging early in counts. It started early, with the righty setting the Bobcats down in order in the opening frame on just six pitches. He also had two eight-pitch frames, going the distance on just 85 pitches with four strikeouts, four hits allowed and three walks.

“For most of us, it was just the nerves today. We didn’t have many strikeouts, we put the ball in the play, we just didn’t score,” said Emmons.

“We like to take pitchers deep in courts. Today we were first pitch swinging,” added Gardner.

Searsport grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Philbrick doubled and MacMillan drove him in with a single.

Richmond struck right back in the third. Small launched a Spiegel offering deep to right-center field for a two-out triple. Nate Kendrick slapped a single to right to tie the game.

But, the Vikings grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the third, with Richmond committing its first two miscues in the field and Searsport stealing four bases, including a theft of home by Barrett Grant for the go-ahead run.

“A lot of the mistakes were mental, we made five errors and I would say it is more like eight, some big mental errors,” Gardner said.

Searsport tacked on its final run in the sixth, with Spiegel’s ground ball bobbled then thrown away, with Grant touching the plate for a second time.

Richmond didn’t go down without a fight. Justin Vachon doubled to open the seventh and hustled to third when the throw back to the infield bounced away. Matt Rines lifted a long sacrifice fly ball to left field to make for a 6-2 final.

Emmons left the field proud of this year’s accomplishments.

“It has been a good year, 16 wins and a great way to go out,” Emmons said.

Bangor Christian defeated Fort Fairfield in the Class D North regional final, 9-3.


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