HAYS — Mount Airy squeezed past North Wilkes with the help of a suicide squeeze to win 8-7 Wednesday.
The Granite Bears pulled out all the stops in this one to earn a nonconference win on the road.
“I think the beauty of this game was everything that happened in it,” said Coach Jon Cawley.
Not only was there a squeeze play at the plate, he said, but there was a wild popup play, an unassisted double play and a steal of home.
Senior leadoff man Austin Taylor was the star of the game. He scored three runs and threw out the potential tying run in the bottom of the seventh.
Austin had two hits and was on third base with Benji Hicks at the plate, said Cawley.
Taylor took off from third as Hicks dropped a bunt in front of the plate. Taylor scored easily.
Later in the game, Taylor again was at third and was measuring the pitcher’s windup to home.
Logan Young was at the plate with an 0-2 count. Cawley said he figured the Vikings’ coach would call an intentional ball just to see if Logan would chase it.
Taylor took off for home as the pitcher was coming set.
Logan saw him coming and eased further back in the batter’s box, the coach said.
Sure enough, the pitch was out of the strike zone.
Austin had such a great jump he didn’t even have to slide to avoid the tag. He crossed the plate standing up.
Cawley said the umpire later told the coach that he had been calling games for decades and had never seen anything like that before.
In another inning, North Wilkes had a man on first when the batter hit a high fly ball just behind the mound. The shortstop and second baseman got their signals crossed on who was going to field it, and the ball dropped in for a hit.
Fortunately, the third baseman was alert and ran over to second base so the fielders could get the ball and make a force out at second.
John Bowman started the game for the Bears and pitched into the fourth inning.
The Bears already had scored all eight of their runs, but the Vikings were trying to rally.
Taylor stepped onto the mound for the first time since his sophomore year. He faced just four batters.
After a strike out, he gave up a walk and a hit, then an error let an unearned run across.
With runners aboard, Cawley went to Wes Bumgartner, who already had doubled in a run at the plate.
Wes threw one pitch and got the team out of the jam.
The batter hit a line drive toward right, but Hicks made a nice catch for one out. Then he tagged the runner trying to get back to first for an inning-ending double play.
Bumgartner pitched three more shutout innings for the save.
For a sophomore to come into such a pressure situation and do so well was special, the coach said.
As for the offense, he said, “Jon Cagle continues to be on a tear. He got two hits tonight.” He had one RBI.
Young had a single and a walk and scored once.
David Sparger singled and scored twice.
The Bears next travel to West Stokes on Friday. That should be a good matchup featuring two of the best teams in the Northwest.