About two weeks ago, Bryce Austin was helping the Richmond boys basketball team contend for a state championship.
On Tuesday, he pitched four quality innings as the Red Devils opened the baseball season with a 10-0 five-inning victory over Hagerstown on John Cate Field at McBride Stadium.
Sport’s different, but mentality’s the same for the 6-foot-2 right hander.
“I really want to kind of carry the composure that the basketball team had and that leadership into this team and showing them how great it is to play at a semistate and win a lot. Bring it to this team, hopefully do the same thing,” said Austin, one of six seniors that helped the RHS basketball team win its first regional in 23 years.
The senior leads a talented group of pitchers and is one of at least two receiving Division I attention.
The Red Devils (1-0) return to action Saturday with a 10 a.m. doubleheader opposite Franklin County.
“I know we’ll see some decent arms from them, they always have good 1’s and 2’s, their coach does a good job there and they’ll come in and be ready to play,” RHS head coach Tyler Lairson said.
Richmond has some pretty decent arms, too, which have the Red Devils receiving votes in the Indiana Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A state poll.
Austin said he is planning on visiting Indiana University and Ball State in the near future and he has already been offered a roster spot by Southern Illinois University.
Lairson said Austin has hit 85 miles per hour, but his hard work in the offseason with pitching coach Patrick Flanagan are what have helped him mature from his junior season.
“I maybe was a three or four pitcher, struggling to throw strikes and me and coach Flanagan put so many hours in the offseason and just changed me a lot, starting to get looks and it’s going real well right now,” Austin said.
“… I changed my arm angle to three quarters, he’s showing me how to stay back, kind of putting a lean into my throwing.”
Kyler Helms helped complete the shutout by pitching a perfect fifth inning Tuesday and the junior has verbally committed to pitch at SIU.
Jordan Christian and Jared Drayton are also expected to pitch for the Red Devils, while Jake Robertson is working his way back from injury.
“That’s what’s going to take us a long way, even Jake who’s hurt, he’s going to bring a lot to the table, I think,” Austin said. “Jared’s moved in and Jordan and Kyler, I mean we’re deep this year, it’s going to take us a long way into the tournament.”
Drayton is a move-in from Alabama and had the big hit in Tuesday’s victory.
After Hagerstown’s Sam Reagan struck out the first six batters of the game, the Red Devils broke through with nine runs on seven hits in the third inning.
Drayton had the third of five straight singles with a pair of RBIs and an error allowing the run to score from first.
According to his father, Drayton is in his fifth school in four years and coming off of elbow surgery and receiving attention from Division I schools.
Tanner Marlow is also receiving college attention and John Cheatwood has been offered a spot at St. Joseph’s College.
Chandler Whalen had two hits, two RBIs and scored a run for the Red Devils, while Isaak Snyder, Drayton, Tanner Marlow, Christian, Larson and Austin each had a hit. Marlow and Larson both scored twice. Snyder, Drayton, Whalen, Helms and Austin scored once.
Hagerstown’s lineup featured some recognizable names for area fans, despite playing four freshmen.
Frehmen Drew Pyle, Trent Weiss, and Owen Golliher all started for the Tigers with Pyle and Weiss among the Hagerstown 11-12 Little League All-Stars that won a state title and advance to the Great Lakes regional as Team Indiana in 2013. Freshman Cameron Purtha also played off the bench Tuesday. Weiss led the game off with a single off Austin.
“At one point in the game, I believe we had four freshmen in, but they were guys that have played a lot of baseball,” Hagerstown coach Brad Catey said. “Trent came in right off the bat and he did what we wanted him to do. If he can set the table for us throughout the year, that will be nice.”
At a Glance
• What: Franklin County at Richmond baseball doubleheader
• When/where: Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at McBride Stadium
• Records: Richmond is 1-0; Franklin County is 0-0 (entering Friday)
• Next: Richmond hosts Connersville Tuesday; Franklin County is at North Decatur Monday
Around the area
Tri-Village at National Trail
Lemon Monroe at Eaton
Seton Catholic at Centerville
Oldenburg at Lincoln
Tri-Village at Randolph Southern
Union County at Cowan
Fort Recovery at National Trail
Coldwater at Eaton