HAYESVILLE — Tyler Marion tossed a one-hit shutout and visiting East Surry defeated Hayesville 4-0 to claim the Class 1A West regional title on Thursday night.
The Cardinals (30-0) swept the best-of-three series from the Yellowjackets and advanced to the state championship series next week.
Marion, a junior right-hander, had a perfect game broken up in the seventh inning when Tyler Leek hit a leadoff single. Marion retired the next three Hayesville batters to clinch the victory.
“The kids played real well. Tyler was sharp. He was dominant from the first pitch to the last pitch. That’s probably one of the best games he’s thrown all year,” longtime coach Barry Hall of East Surry said. “We played great defense and also had timely hitting. It was a well-played ballgame.”
Marion allowed just one baserunner and struck out nine in a complete game effort to improve to 12-0 this season. East has posted 12 shutouts this year.
After winning Game 1 at home against the Yellowjackets on Tuesday in convincing fashion, the Cards had to turn around and make the 262-mile trip to the far western part of the state for Game 2 in Hayesville Thursday evening.
“We talked (Wednesday) about how we wanted them to stay focused,” Hall said. “I thought they really got themself ready. Most of the time they do it on their own.”
East got on the scoreboard with two outs in the fourth inning. Alec “Gator” Wilson had a base hit to right off Leek, who started on the mound for Hayesville (20-4). Then Madison Chilton hit a sharp single to center field to put runners on the corners. Seth Brim drove in Wilson for the first run of the game with a single to right center.
In the top of the fifth, Meredith drew a leadoff walk, then hit Lucas Koons with a pitch. Logan Sheets moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Leek got a strikeout with Marion coming to the plate. Leek’s first pitch got past catcher Caleb Nuckolls, allowing Meredith to score for a two-run lead. Marion drove in Koons with a double for a 3-0 advantage.
Leek issued a walk to Chilton to start the sixth, and Hayesville coach Jeff Vardo brought in senior Peyton Long in relief. Brim had a sacrifice bunt, Cody Ashburn was hit by a pitch and Meredith reached on an error to load the bases. Blake Marion was hit by a pitch to score courtesy runner Preston Smith for a 4-0 lead.
It was more than enough with Tyler Marion on the hill.
East will take on the Whiteville Wolfpack-Rosewood Eagles winner in the championship series. The Wolfpack (23-5) leads the Eastern Regional final series 1-0 after taking a 14-5 win over the Eagles (20-5) in Game 1. The second game of that series is tonight. The state finals will be held at either Five County Stadium in Zebulon or UNC-Greensboro, beginning a week from today. The state will make its decision on the venue on Saturday night.
Hall said he hopes the state puts East Surry and 4A West regional champion West Forsyth at the same venue. He said the crowds would be huge.
East won the third regional championship in school history and is headed back to the state championship final for the third time, after finishing the state runner-up in 1982 and 2007.
“It’s great for the kids. From day one they’ve earned this right here,” Hall said. “Last year was one of the toughest losses. I had to see tears in their eyes. This year they won the right to go to the regional, and they win it, and I get to see them smile.”
The Cards have knocked off Bishop McGuinness, Starmount, East Montgomery, Albemarle and Hayesville twice (9-1, 4-0) to move two wins away from the school’s first ever state crown. Dating back to last season, East has won 51 of its last 53 games.