Randleman Tigers conjure more magic for PAC baseball supremacy

Randleman’s Braxton Walker had a big impact at the plate and on the mound earlier this week. (Bob Sutton / Randolph Record)

RANDLEMAN – Randleman had just enjoyed another one of those defining moments that seem to come so often for the school’s baseball team.

There were various assessments of what that meant after Tuesday night’s 6-5, eight-inning victory against visiting Trinity.

“We got to get better,” shortstop Jake Riddle said. “We got to.”

While it wasn’t the smoothest outing for the Tigers, they again found a way. The result secured another outright Piedmont Athletic Conference regular-season championship and kept Randleman unbeaten in league play.

The Tigers tied the score in the bottom of the seventh and won on Riddle’s bases-loaded walk with two outs in the eighth.

“Just some sort of magic we got going on over here,” first baseman / pitcher Braxton Walker said.

It was the first Trinity / Randleman meeting since the Tigers won last year’s PAC Tournament championship game. While there were naturally personnel changes for the Tigers, much of it looks the same.

“I’m not surprised,” coach Jake Smith said. “We had a lot of guys who had to prove themselves. I know the guys believe in themselves and they’re confident.”

After the game, Smith kept the Tigers huddled in the outfield for the longest postgame session of the season. The players understood that they had escaped.

“We all kept our composure and came back and fought,” Walker said. “We live to see another day.”

Randleman led 4-0 on Walker’s third-inning grand slam. It was the junior’s first varsity home run.

With ace pitcher Seth Way in charge, the Tigers might have thought they’d cruise until some clunky defense gave the Bulldogs life with three runs in the fourth.

In the sixth, Trinity loaded the bases without a hit, with Brody Little drawing a pass after falling behind in the count. Walker Parrish then delivered a two-out, two-run single on a 2-2 pitch to lift the Bulldogs to a 5-4 lead.

Randleman put runners on base in the seventh with a hit batter and a pair of bunts. A fielder’s choice grounder cut down a runner at the plate before Way’s tying sacrifice fly.

Walker pitched the top of the eighth. There were two outs in the bottom of the inning before an error and two walks set up Riddle for the game-ending walk as the first batter to face reliever Camden Nelson.

Riddle said he wanted to make amends for a missed opportunity in a regular-season loss last year at Trinity.

“We work hard enough for that moment,” Riddle said. “It’s always good to win.”

It marked Randleman’s first late-game comeback for victory this year.

“Did what we needed to do to get the win,” Smith said.

Way struck out nine and allowed three hits across seven innings. Trinity starter Andon Simmons was spot-on with a couple of exceptions.

Tuesday’s result gave Randleman an 11-game winning streak, a string that ended the next night with a 10-4 non-league home setback to Class 4-A Northern Guilford.

Randleman (16-3 overall) takes an 11-0 PAC record into its league finale Friday night at Trinity (7-13, 3-6), which has lost four games in a row.

By Bob Sutton