On a less-than-ideal night for high school baseball, missed opportunities were the watchword for both Mount Airy and Surry Central on Friday night. In the end, the Golden Eagles got their offense going first, and came away with a 6-1 victory.
The Granite Bears (2-4 overall) had three serious opportunities to score, but a lack of execution and two baserunning mistakes kept them off the board until Simon Cawley singled with two out in the bottom of the seventh, driving in Ryan Edwards with his team’s lone run.
Surry Central pitcher Carter Graham earned the win, pitching five innings and allowing just two hits. Jed Kidd pitched the last two innings for the Eagles, who improved to 5-2 in the team’s first season under rookie head coach Seth Reece.
Central took a 1-0 lead in the second, but left the inning feeling like they should have had a lot more. The Eagles got back-to-back singles from Tyler Myers and Mason Wood against Mount Airy starter Cooper Nester, then loaded the based on a walk to Ryan Gordon. However, they came up with just one run. Noah Wilmoth forced in a run on a ground ball to second. Troy Jessup walked to reload the bases, but the next man grounded to short, leaving three on base.
A similar situation occurred in the top of the third, but this time the Eagles got nothing. They loaded the bases with no out, forcing Mount Airy coach Jon Cawley to make a pitching change. With Alex Creed pitching, Myers grounded to first base and the play went home. Then Wood hit a ground ball into the shortstop hole that hit Kidd, automatically putting him out. With two out, Creed got Gordon to hit a can of corn to center to end the inning.
Noah Wilmoth led off the Central fourth with a double down the left-field line and scored on a single to center by Jessup.
The Eagles got their first two men on base in the fifth, but Coach Cawley switched pitchers again, and Chris Chanclor pitched his way out of the jam with no scoring.
The Bears had their first chance in the last half of that inning. Chanclor led off with a single to left. Tanner Dutton followed with a ground ball to second, but Central went for the lead runner, and Chanclor beat the throw, leaving both men safe. Corbin Welch followed with another grounder to second, which had the effect of moving both runners into scoring position for Cawley. Mount Airy tried a squeeze play, but Cawley was unable to get the bunt down on a pitch out of the strike zone, and Eagle catcher Chandler Daughenbaugh caught the runner hung up between third and home. The rundown ended with Michael Roberts making the tag at third, and then Graham struck out Cawley to end the inning.
Ethan Danley led off the Central sixth with a walk, and Kidd followed with one of his own an out later. Danley ended up scoring on a wild pitch, while Myers legged out an infield single to plate Kidd for a 4-0 lead.
Bad luck and questionable baserunning doomed the Bears in the sixth, an inning where Matthew Dodd and Clay Taylor walked against Kidd. With two on and one out, Nester hit a hard line drive down the right-field line that just went foul, only to get caught looking on the next pitch. With two out, the Bears tried to steal third base and Daughenbaugh gunned down the runner to end the inning.
The Eagles parlayed a Gordon single and three Mount Airy errors into two more runs in the top of the seventh. The Bears mounted another challenge against Kidd in their half of the inning, as Edwards led off with a walk, followed by a single from Chanclor. With two out and both runners in scoring position, Cawley singled to avert the shutout, but the next man fouled out to end the game.
The January and February MAHS Athletes of the Month were honored before the game, as was the Mount Airy girls’ basketball team, which won the state championship last Saturday. Head coach and co-athletic director Angela Mayfield threw out the first pitch, surrounded by her team.
The Bears, who own victories over East Wilkes and Salem Baptist this season, return to action on Tuesday at Atkins. The Eagles’ next game is a rematch with Mount Airy, on Wednesday in Dobson.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.