PILOT MOUNTAIN — Scott Meredith had a little trouble getting a grip on his curveball early in Tuesday’s playoff game.
It didn’t take the East Surry senior right-hander long to adjust.
Meredith shook off a tough first inning, and the Cardinals slugged their way past East Montgomery 9-1 in the third round of the Class 1A West playoffs.
With the win, East Surry (27-0) broke the school record for victories in a season.
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in a first inning where the Cards committed two errors and Meredith issued a walk. East’s second error allowed East Montgomery to score.
“Scott’s hand was wet and he was having trouble gripping the curveball,” East coach Barry Hall said. “Once he got it straightened out, I felt like that was the only run they were going to score in the game. Meredith is a gamer.”
Meredith was in command the rest of the way. He finished with a line of one unearned run, two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts in five innings. Seth Brim threw the last two innings.
East Surry got on the board in the bottom of the second.
Brim doubled to center field off left-hander Ryan Webb and would go to third on an East Montgomery error. Cody Ashburn had an RBI groundout to tie the game 1-1.
In the bottom of the third, the Cards broke the game open. Weston Payne doubled down the right-field line, then Tyler Marion hit a chopper to left field to put runners on the corners.
Payne scored the go-ahead run when a pickoff throw got past second base. Alec Wilson walked on four straight pitches, and Madison Chilton singled to load the bases.
Coach Sean Hassell of East Montgomery brought in right-hander Caleb Hassell with Brim coming up to the plate.
Brim slammed a two-run single off the fence in center field to make it 4-1 Cards. Ashburn had an RBI single, and Meredith reached on a fielder’s choice. East Montgomery tried to throw out Lucas Koons trying to steal second, and another run scored for East Surry.
East Surry’s three home playoff games have been well-attended so far — with a huge crowd on hand Tuesday.
“Once we got going we hit the ball good,” Hall said. “I thought we were a little hyped up (early). We can’t have that Friday. We settled down and started playing like we did all year.”
Chilton’s solo home run to center field got East Surry going in the fifth inning. Koons drew a walk, Ashburn singled, and Meredith hit an RBI double to left. Chilton walked and Logan Sheets had an RBI sac fly.
After the first inning, Meredith gave up just one hit — retiring East Montgomery in order in the second, fourth and fifth innings.
“I was more nervous than anything. A little too hyped up,” Meredith said. “After the first inning we just settled down and started playing East Surry baseball. We knew we weren’t playing like ourselves.”
East Surry hosts the Albemarle-Alleghany winner on Friday with a trip to the Western Regional best-of-three series on the line.
The Eagles, who won an 11-inning marathon game against Elkin in the previous round, finished the season 17-5.
“They are a class act. The kind of team you want to play,” Hall said.