FOREST CITY — The East Surry 9-10 Little League All-Stars are halfway to a state championship after playing their first two games of the North Carolina 9-10 Little League Championship Series.
The Cardinals opened the tournament on Saturday morning with a 6-0 shutout of District 5 (Henderson Co.) and then jumped on Coul Oak (District 3, northwest metro Charlotte) early before cruising to a 5-2 victory on Sunday morning at Summey Park in Forest City.
With the win over Coul Oak, East Surry, which is 7-1 on the season at all levels of competition, advanced to the state semifinals and will face Greenville this evening at 6 p.m. If the Cardinals win, they will advance directly to the championship round of the double-elimination tournament, which begins on Thursday, and whoever comes out of the elimination bracket to face them would have to win twice, like East Surry did to win the District 2 title late last month.
Against Coul Oak, the Cardinals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning and made that lead stand until Coul Oak scored twice in the bottom of the fifth. Only one inning of play remained, but East Surry tacked on an insurance run in its half of the sixth before completing the contest with a scoreless bottom half of the inning.
Lucas Johnson pitched three innings to lead the mound crew for the Cardinals, with Tripp McMillen adding 1.2 frames of work. No East Surry batter had more than one hit, but Pennson Badgett drove in two runs and Porter Gibson also was credited with an RBI. As a team, the Cardinals played error-free in the field and outhit Coul Oak 6-3.
The opener against Henderson County also began with East Surry starting out strong. The Cardinals were the home team in this contest, and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. They scored three in the second for a 4-0 advantage, then pushed it out to 6-0 after three and went on to post the shutout win.
Johnson and Vincent Pannutti each had a pair of hits for East Surry, while Pennson, McMillen and Zach Keener were all credited with driving in a run. Johnson tossed 2.1 innings and Carter Motsinger had 1.2 to top the pitchers.
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