Source: John CateA.J. Wilson homers in the third inning of the Cardinals’ 11-1 win.
The battle for No. 1 in the Northwest 1A Conference baseball ranks will be decided on the field Friday night.
East Surry kept its date with Walkertown for a spot in the conference tournament finals on Wednesday night, rolling to an 11-1 victory over host Mount Airy in the second semifinal game. The Wolfpack, which shared the regular-season conference title with the Cardinals, beat North Stokes 10-1 in the first semifinal, also played on the Granite Bears’ field.
The Cardinals (18-4 overall) concluded the game when John Marion scored on a wild pitch with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Although the game was played at Mount Airy, East Surry played as the home team since it was seeded higher in the tournament.
East Surry actually started off ominously. The Bears’ Corbin Welch reached on a wild-pitch strikeout when East Surry first baseman Trevor Hauser couldn’t handle a poor throw from the catcher. Then pitcher Kain Kiser almost immediately committed a second Cardinal error, throwing a pickoff attempt past Hauser into the right-field foul territory.
Fortunately if you were an East Surry fan, Kiser’s arm was more accurate when directed toward the plate. He proceeded to strike out Clay Taylor on a high fastball, got Chris Chanclor to pop out, and then Welch tried to steal third base and East catcher Tyler Chilton atoned for his earlier miscue by throwing him out.
The rest of the game belonged to the Cardinals.
Bear started Alex Hall hit Marion with a pitch to open the East Surry half of the second. With one out, Mount Airy coach Jon Cawley ordered A.J. Wilson intentionally walked, but the move backfired when Kiser doubled to right and put the Cardinals on the board. Chilton followed with an RBI single of his own, and then Nick Shoffner drove in a third run on a fielder’s choice that the home team botched. Hauser drove in the fourth run on a groundout before Hall could escape the inning.
Mount Airy got a run back in the second, when Ryan Edwards reached on an error leading off and Matthew Dodd singled him home. Dodd later made it to third himself, but Chilton picked him off for the third out.
Hall struck out the side in the East Surry half of the second, but Kiser answered with a 1-2-3 inning of his own.
The Bears sent Alex Creed to the mound in the bottom of the third, and Wilson greeted him with a home run. Kiser drew a walk, and then Chilton had a hit to plate another Cardinal run. Tanner Dutton then came in to pitch and eventually got Mount Airy out of the inning, but not before East scored three more times, thanks to a wild pitch, Hauser getting plunked, a walk to Colby Guy, a two-RBI single by Marion and an infield single by Wilson. The Cardinals sent 11 men to the plate in the inning and left it with a 10-1 lead.
Dutton pitched well the rest of the way, but so did Kiser, and nothing else of note occurred until Marion singled in the bottom of the fifth and reached third base on an error. The junior dashed home with a headfirst slide on an errant pitch to send his team home early.
Walkertown (15-4) and East Surry split during the regular season, with the Cardinals winning 8-1 in Pilot Mountain on April 4, but then losing 5-1 three nights later in Walkertown. Both teams won the rest of their league games and duly tied for the conference title at 9-1. Tonight’s championship game will determine who gets the top playoff seed out of the conference, as well as who gets the tournament trophy. The teams are currently ranked fourth and seventh in the state’s 1A ranks by MaxPreps.com, with East Surry in the higher spot. The final, like the semifinals, will be played at MAHS.
With a 12-9 record, Mount Airy should be included in the state 1A playoffs, but the Bears will have to wait a few days to find out where it will be playing.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.