The host team will be heard from in this year’s edition of the Northwest 1A Conference Baseball Tournament.
Some hard work from the Mount Airy High School grounds crew was reciprocated by a solid effort by the Granite Bears on Monday night, and the host school for this year’s semifinals and championship game of the tournament earned its spot into the semifinals with an 14-4 rout of visiting Atkins.
The Bears (12-8 overall), who hosted the last two rounds of the tournament a year ago but weren’t actually playing in them, will face regular-season co-champion and second seed East Surry in the semifinals on Wednesday at about 7:15 p.m.
Mount Airy fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning, surrendering a pair of unearned runs to the Camels thanks to a misplayed fly ball with two out. However, the Bears responded with opportunistic play against the mistake-prone visitors and scored five runs in their half of the opening frame. Atkins was able to close to within 5-4 in its half of the second, but got no closer. Mount Airy took control with four runs in the third and added three more in the fourth inning.
The Camels took a 2-0 lead thanks to a two-out error that allowed a runner to score first base, which was followed by a walk and a single by Atkins’ Jacob Holder that drove in a second run.
When it was Mount Airy’s turn to bat, the Bears were able to take advantage of bouts of wildness from Camel starter Tyler Garoutte, not to mention the shaky defense backing him up. Clay Taylor and Chris Chanclor led off with walks, and Corbin Welch laid down a bunt, which Garoutte fielded and threw over his first baseman’s head. By the time the Camels retrieved the errant throw, both runners had scored and Welch had reached third base.
The Camels made the play on a suicide squeeze attempt for the first out, but then failed to make the play when Matthew Dodd hit into a fielders’ choice. After Cooper Nester walked to load the bases, Cole Shelton smacked a double down the left-field line to clear them and give the home team a 5-2 lead.
Chanclor, who started the game for Mount Airy, lost the plate in the second inning and ended up allowing two runs thanks to three walks, but Dodd checked in and got his team out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation with a 4-6-3 double play that left the Bears clinging to a 5-4 lead in the top of the second. When Garoutte struck out the side in his half of the inning, it looked like momentum might shift toward the Camels.
Dodd took care of that by matching him, tossing a scoreless third and fourth inning before leaving the game with two out in the fifth. In the meantime, Mount Airy regained control of the game in its half of the fourth, starting with back-to-back walks by Nester and Shelton with one out. Ryan Edwards doubled to bring in a run, and then Robert Brown knocked Garoutte out with a two-RBI single to right. Taylor later grounded out to second, plating Brown with another run and a 9-4 Mount Airy advantage,
The Bears added three more runs in the fourth and two in the fifth. An RBI single by Trey Simmons and a bases-loaded walk to Simon Cawley provided the last two runs of what became a mercy-rule victory for Mount Airy.
The game didn’t begin until after 8 p.m., but the hosts were able to get it into perfect game condition despite the heavy rain earlier in the day, and no problems occurred during the course of the contest.