Tyler Lairson has spent a lot of time coaching third base at McBride Stadium.
Tuesday was a little different for the 2004 Richmond High School grad. But only a little.
“Normal,” Lairson said of his reaction to his first game as Richmond’s head baseball coach. “The weirdest thing was not having blue on.”
Lairson was wearing a Red Devil uniform instead of the Richmond RiverRat colors he’s donned the past five summers. He’ll return for a sixth season as the manager of Richmond’s collegiate woodbat Prospect League franchise.
Tuesday marked not only his first game as Richmond’s coach, but his first win in that position, too. The Red Devils edged Hagerstown 5-4 in eight innings at McBride Stadium.
“There are a lot of differences,” Lairson said of leading the two programs. “There is a lot more coaching that goes on throughout the game, and obviously the rules difference.”
Tyler Slawson was the hero Tuesday, swatting a two-out RBI single toward left field to plate Tanner Marlow in the bottom of eighth.
Slawson, who also threw two innings in relief, was happy to help his coach win in his debut.
“He deserves it, with how hard he’s worked with us,” Slawson said. “We have the potential that he’s given us to go pretty far.”
Slawson and Marlow each had two hits for RHS in the win, while Marlow brought in two runs with a sixth-inning triple.
Jordan Christian started on the mound and threw five solid innings, with Slawson and Nate Flannery pitching in relief.
Richmond has another chance to get back on the field this week. The Red Devils play host to Eaton in a doubleheader on Saturday at McBride.
“I think it’s great for us to have these games early, to figure out what we have and what we need to get better at,” Lairson said.
“Obviously we are going to address our base running issues. We can’t give away five outs a game and expect to win. Obviously that’s a priority. Other than that, continue to do the things we’re doing and work hard. Eaton is a good ballclub. They have some great, young talented players. It will be a good game for us. We’re just excited to get back on the field.”
Hagerstown senior Bryan Mathews had a chance to show off his arm in Tuesday’s game — both from behind the plate and on the pitching mound.
Mathews picked off a total of five base runners. Four of those came with Mathews at catcher, and the other when he relieved starter Sam Reagan.
“He’s got all the tools to go be a Division I catcher,” Hagerstown coach Brad Catey said of Mathews. “He’s quick. He’s got a great arm. He’s a good leader. I think that’s something we can build on, and hopefully Richmond learned a little bit as well that will help them down the road.”
Reagan was strong in his starting role. The left-hander tossed 52⁄3 innings, striking out seven and surrendering four hits.
“Sam’s pretty much been playing baseball all year, so I was able to let him go a little further,” Catey said. ” … His arm was where it needed to be.”