DANBURY — The East Surry baseball team was desperate for a victory over North Stokes on Tuesday for a pair of reasons.
On one hand, the Cardinals needed the victory to remain in contention for the Northwest Conference championship. But perhaps even more so on the players’ minds, East Surry wanted revenge.
After a 1-0 loss to North Stokes in March, the Cardinals (10-8, 4-2) flipped the script Tuesday with a 3-0 win over the Vikings. East Surry rode the power arm of Tyler Smith to victory. The senior righty started his third game in the past week but showed no signs of fatigue, striking out 18 batters and only giving up three hits in the win.
“We were trying to get some revenge. We just didn’t feel like we should have lost to (North Stokes) the first time,” Smith said. “But we also needed to get back towards the top of the conference standings and we did that.”
Layton Helms was on the mound during the Vikings’ win over East Surry earlier this season, but the sophomore righty didn’t quite possess the stuff on Wednesday to match Smith.
East Surry took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when AJ Wilson drove Smith in with an RBI single. The Cardinals doubled their advantage when Alex Eubanks scored on a hard groundball from Staymon Johnson that North Stokes’ third baseman couldn’t handle.
Johnson came through again for his team in the top of the fourth. Wyatt Guy laced a one-out double to right field and moved to third base on a single from Kain Kiser. East Surry coach Chad Freeman signaled for the suicide squeeze, and Johnson executed to do-or-die play to perfection for a 3-0 lead.
“Those are the little things we struggled with at the beginning of the season,” Freeman said. “At the beginning of the year, we probably don’t get that bunt down, but it was an excellent job by Staymon to scratch across the run.”
The 3-0 advantage was more than enough for Smith, who was rarely in any sort of trouble on Tuesday. The Vikings did send the tying run to the plate in the seventh, but he forced Austin Shelton into an easy groundout to clinch the win.
East Surry is now tied with the Vikings for second place in the Northwest Conference race. Both team trail unbeaten Walkertown by two games, but the Cardinals will have the first chance to cut into the Wolfpack’s lead when they travel to Winston-Salem on Friday. With inclement weather on the horizon, Coach Freeman said there is a chance the game gets moved up to Thursday.
Reach Jackson at 415-4702 and on twitter @jacksonfuller16