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HILLSVILLE –– A predictable offense isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, repetitiveness was a key Thursday for Richlands.
Every nine batters, the kid wearing No. 13 hit one over the fence.
Led by Bradley Strong’s three solo home runs and a solid effort by starting pitcher James Patton, Richlands knocked off Carroll County 6-2 in a Southwest District game at Bill Worrell Field.
The loss dropped the Cavaliers to 5-5 in the district, 9-8 overall, with games Friday at Graham and Saturday at Tazewell remaining on the schedule. Richlands improved to 13-5, 9-3 in the league.
Strong, a senior shortstop headed for Western Carolina, didn’t take long to find his stroke, leading off the game with a solo shot to left-center.
The guys chasing home run balls didn’t have to look far for Strong’s second one, a one-out jack to virtually the same spot in the top of the third.
Strong was Richlands’ only offense up to that point, but the Blue Tornado kept the rally going and added three more runs in the inning. Strong’s homer was followed by singles from brother Reece Strong and Michael Horton, and Josh Compton’s dribbler to the left side squeaked through the infield for an RBI single. Horton came home on a misplayed grounder and Tanner Smith capped the rally with a run-scoring hit to left.
Bradley Strong’s third round-tripper, also to left-center, led off the fourth as Richlands went on top 6-0.
In the meantime, Patton was getting the job done on the mound, allowing one baserunner – a Jordan Lamb walk in the second – through the first three innings. Patton carried a no-hitter through four innings before Morgan Edwards led off the fifth with a sharp single up the middle. Reece Edwards followed with a walk before Patton fanned two Cavaliers. Blake Bowman and Brandon Lineberry picked up the slack with a pair of RBI singles for Carroll County’s only runs of the game.
Patton left after five innings of work, giving up the two runs on three hits, striking out nine and walking three. C.J. Whitt finished the job, retiring all six Cavaliers he faced.