Richland Northeast defeated Camden 5-2 Thursday at Legion Field to win the Kershaw Richland Classic wood bat tournament championship.
The Cavaliers (13-7) parlayed outstanding pitching into four tournament wins, two by shutout. Jake Mueller went the distance for the pitching decision in the title game. The junior right-hander, who is committed to Wake Forest, had a one-hit shutout going for six innings before tiring in the seventh.
In the end, Mueller allowed two runs and four hits while striking out seven. He did not issue a walk, but did hit three Bulldog batters.
Mueller and Camden’s Ross Hough were locked in a one-hit, scoreless duel for five innings before the Cavaliers finally broke the ice in the top of the sixth. RNE used small ball tactics to perfection in the breakout inning – scoring three runs with the aid of two walks, two bunts and two hits, along with three Camden errors.
The first run came on a perfect squeeze bunt by Justin Davidson, scoring Ryne Maness. Zach Crumlich drove in Joe Stanton with a single and later scored himself on an errant throw on a steal attempt.
Stanton delivered a run-scoring double in the seventh as RNE expanded the lead to 5-0.
Camden got three of its four hits and both runs against Mueller in the bottom of the seventh. Hough’s double with no outs plated Lawson Stokes and Nick Tucker before Mueller settled down to end it without further damage.
The defensive play of the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning. Camden had a courtesy runner, William Spring, on second base with one outs, but the Cavaliers defused the developing rally with a hidden ball trick that caught Spring at third base for the second out of the inning. Bennett Harrelson followed with Camden’s first hit of the game to center field that likely would have allowed Spring to score.
RNE opened KRC play with a 7-2 win over Westwood on Monday, followed by shutout wins by Maness and Crumlich on Wednesday. Maness beat Ridge View 1-0 as Davidson had a walk-off single to score Mueller. Crumlich blanked Dutch Fork, 2-0.
The Cavaliers return to Region 4-4A play on Tuesday against Blythewood with a chance to catch the Bengals atop the standings with a win.
Camden (11-8) plays at Hartsville on Tuesday before hitting the stretch run in Region 4-3A against Dreher at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday.