FOREST CITY — Chalk it up as the kind of game where you just burn the film and move on.
East Surry’s 9-10 Little League All-Stars sustained their first defeat in the double-elimination state championship series on Tuesday evening, as the Cardinals committed seven errors and largely contributed to their own demise in an 8-4 loss to the Greenville All-Stars at Summey Park in Forest City.
East Surry, which is 7-2 in all games and 2-1 in the championship series, had played error-free ball in its first two games, but was not sharp at all in the field in the semifinal against the unbeaten Greenville team. The Pitt County squad, playing as the “home” team for this contest, erased a 1-0 Cardinal lead in the bottom of the first inning, scoring five times to take a lead it would never relinquish.
After each team scored once in the second inning, neither team was able to scratch again until Greenville added two more in the fifth. Down 8-2, East Surry tried to mount a sixth-inning rally, but could score just two runs before the third out was recorded.
The Cardinals actually outhit Greenville 7-6 and outwalked them 2-1, but the seven errors were too much to overcome against a team that limited its own miscues to just two.
East Surry’s Lucas Johnson, Carter Motsinger and Tripp McMillen did most of the pitching and were solid for the most part, frequently getting ahead of the Greenville batters, but were let down by the leaky defense. The Cardinals committed four errors in the first inning alone, when Greenville tallied enough unearned runs to ultimately win the game.
Porter Gibson drove in a pair of runs for East Surry, and McMillen was also credited with an RBI. McMillen was the only East batter with more than one hit, collecting two on the evening.
The good news for the Cardinals is that their series isn’t over. In fact, the same thing happened in the District 2 series, in which they lost to Winston-Salem National in the semifinal, had to win an elimination game the next day, and then avenged their loss by beating National twice on the tournament’s final day. They will try to make history repeat itself starting tomorrow evening. East Surry will face either Wilson or Chase (Forest City, the host team) today at 6 p.m., depending on which of those teams wins an earlier elimination game. If the Cardinals win today, they will still make the championship round, but will have to beat Greenville twice.
If you can’t travel to the game but want to keep up with the team’s progress, visit http://gc.com and search for East Surry. The team is live-blogging its games on the East Surry LL Cardinals 9-10 All Stars page.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.