Coach Jon Cawley said nobody outside of the Mount Airy dugout expects much from his team.
The way the Granite Bears are playing right now, that could change.
Mount Airy beat 4A Dudley 6-1 on Monday night in Greensboro for its fourth win in a row. Hard-throwing right-hander Jon Cagle kept a solid-hitting Panthers’ lineup in check. He gave up three hits and struck out 16.
“Jon Cagle was dominant,” Cawley said. “Dudley is a team that is averaging 11 hits a game. They’ve got a good-hitting ball team. Jon struck out 16 and 13 were called looking. He just froze them.”
David Sparger, who had two hits for the Bears, started a three-run rally in the third inning when he was hit by a pitch.
Corbin Welch stole home plate in the game. Mount Airy also turned a couple of double plays in a team effort.
Dudley won this year’s Class 4A state football championship, said Cawley, and most of those guys are playing baseball.
“Dudley is a good team with better athletes at every position. You aren’t going to get any gappers, not many base hits. Their field is really big, so we couldn’t hit home runs,” Cawley said. “We ran the bases well and we had six or seven hits. It was just one of those things where everybody on the field contributed something, which as a coach is great to see.”
The Bears (10-7) have stayed under the radar in the Northwest Conference behind Walkertown and undefeated East Surry, a couple of teams ranked in the state 1A polls. Not including three losses to the Cardinals and Wolfpack (twice), who have a combined record of 32-2, the Bears have won eight straight against every other opponent on the schedule.
And earlier in the season, Mount Airy lost 1-0 games to East Surry and North Surry, and had a 7-6 loss to Dudley.
“We are hitting the ball better,” Cawley said. “The teams that beat us three times in a row were Walkertown twice and East Surry. We are playing pretty good baseball and we have all year. We are just playing some teams that are better than us. We are trying to get better. I think we have more room for improvement.”
The Bears also have swept Bishop McGuinness — handing a strong-hitting Villains team their worst loss of the season April 1 by a 10-0 score.
Freshman Corbin Welch “has been phenomenal,” hitting .380 in the leadoff spot for Mount Airy. Cagle has hit .500 since the fourth game of the year. Cawley also noted the play of Kenny Overfelt and all-state soccer player Mitchell Brown, who has been effective getting on base and leads the team in runs scored.
Cawley said in the last couple of games, rallies have started from the bottom of the lineup.
With the team hitting the way it has and Cagle on the hill, Mount Airy has proven it is able to compete with anyone. Dudley saw Cagle for an inning in the first meeting March 15. The Panthers got a heavy dose of him on Monday night.
“He throws hard, mid 80s, has a nasty curve ball and he’s a heck of a competitor,” Cawley said. “When Jon Cagle is pitching, on a given day we can beat anybody. John Bowman and Logan Holder are throwing well. We plan on showing up to compete. We’ve been able to do that against everybody but Walkertown.
“Before (Monday) night’s game we’d given up 56 runs, and half have come to Walkertown. That’s where we are disappointed in ourselves. Two-thirds of our errors have been in those two games. We’ve got to fix that. We’ve got to find a way to compete with them.”
Mount Airy closes out the regular season this week at Elkin on Thursday in a nonconference game and at home against North Stokes on Tuesday.
This year’s Northwest Conference baseball tournament will be held at Mount Airy High School.
“We’ve done some nice things. I’m proud of them,” Cawley said. “I like our ball team. I like their approach. I like their hustle. I don’t mind going to fight with these guys any time.”