It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but the Richmond Spartans were able to finally climb over the .500 mark as they outlasted Oak Grove Monday afternoon. The Spartans picked up a half dozen runs in their first at bat and then held on to defeat the Panthers 9-6.
Richmond managed just 8 hits in the road victory over their former MRVC nemesis, but had just enough to improve to 5-4 for the season, as Oak Grove fell to 1-11.
“I knew at some point we were going to bottom out a bit on our offense,” Richmond Coach Brandon Quick said. “We’ve been scoring a lot of runs lately. Luckily, we picked it up defensively at the end to hang on.”
Richmond got a lot of help early in the top of the first as Oak Grove starter Chris Barnhill hit one batter, and walked two more, while the Panther defense committed a pair of errors behind him. Kyle Ash, Colby Bowles and Reny Reis each singled for the Spartans as they put 6 runs on the board.
After being the victims of a no-hit effort at Grain Valley on Friday, and collecting just one hit earlier in the week against Harrisonville, the Panther offense found a bit of life in the home half of the first inning. The Panthers got to Richmond starter Trevor Nichols for 3 runs on a single, a pair of walks and a couple of errors.
Nichols was able to settle down and hold the Oak Grove bats quiet as he surrendered only a third-inning single, while walking just 2 more before giving way to Branden Evans with one out in the sixth. Evans struck out five of the seven Panthers he faced to pick up the save.
“Branden is always someone we know we can lean on,” Quick said. “For Trevor, he’s got a lot of talent. It’s just a matter of getting him some experience and a little bit more maturity. So today was a nice experience for him.”
The Spartans were able to add on to their total in the fifth on a single from Reis and RBI-single by Zach McGill. Oak Grove got back on the board and cut the deficit to a single run in the home half of the sixth with a pair of runs as the Panthers took advantage of a pair of Spartan errors.
Richmond picked up a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Corey Adkison drove in the final 2 Spartan runs with his second single of the game.
Walks to Bowles and Kyle Carroll loaded the bases, but the Spartans could do no more damage. Evans struck out the side after issuing a lead-off walk in the home half of the inning to end the game.
PHOTO: Richmond second baseman Zach McGill goes to apply the tag on a Panther base runner during Monday’s game at Oak Grove. The throw was too late, but the Spartans moved over the .500 mark with a 9-6 victory. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)