PILOT MOUNTAIN — For the first time in years, East Surry will enjoy a season with two regular-season wins over conference foe North Stokes. Their latest victory was a 5-3 decision on Friday evening that put the Cardinals into the catbird seat for the Northwest 1A Conference title.
It has probably been six or seven years since we beat North Stokes twice in the conference regular season,” said East Surry coach Randy Marion. “They are a great ball team, and I know they are without a couple of people, so they are not 100 percent, but they are a very good ball team. They will do well in state playoffs, and we are probably going to see them at least one more time, if not a couple of more times.”
Allie Bruner placed her team on the scoreboard early on, with a three-run home run over the left-field fence, and gave East Surry a quick 3-0 lead.
In the second inning, not a single Viking could reach base. Two of the three batters that Autumn Lawson faced, she struck out.
After two complete innings, the score remained in favor of the home team by a 3-0 mark, but the top of the third inning finally gave North Stokes something to smile about. On back-to-back base hits, followed by back-to-back East Surry throwing errors, North Stokes pushed two Vikings home. The damage was mitigated, as Lawson struck out the next batter for the third out. The Cardinals still led the ballgame as they headed into the bottom of the third, but now only by a single run.
“I am very impressed with this group, and it seems like I continue to say that after every game. I am amazed at their resilience and how they keep fighting,” said Marion. “We make a mistake here and there and get ourselves into a little bit of trouble, but still someone ends up making a play and bails us out of what we got in.”
Bruner struck again and was the only Cardinal to reach base in the third inning, but she was left stranded on first while the third out was punched.
In the fourth, North Stokes did not place a runner on base and were held to another scoreless inning by Lawson. Meanwhile, East Surry managed to tack on another two runs. Anna Kate Badgett stepped into the box with one out and sent a pitch to the gap in right field, and her double scored Heflin from second base. Morgan Smith’s time in the box was a fruitful one, as Badgett attempted to steal third, was met with a North Stokes error from the plate, and collected home as a result. After four complete, East Surry’s lead improved to 5-2 margin.
An early inning triple to open up the fifth inning allowed the visitors to bring in their third run, but the damage was limited to only a run, as two other Vikings were left stranded on base. Two caught pop-flys out to left field and a third out punch-out held the Cardinals scoreless in their turn, but after five complete, the home team still led 5-3.
Bethany Clayton went to the batter’s box with two outs in the sixth and Badgett on second. The junior hit a towering shot to right field that appeared as if it would leave the park, but it came up just short and was caught. The teams went to the seventh with East Surry still ahead by two runs.
The Vikings had one more opportunity to rally, but Lawson kept them off the scoreboard one last time.
At the conclusion of the ballgame on Friday night, the Cardinals, who are ranked second in the state’s 1A ranks by MaxPreps.com, improved their overall mark to 13-2 and a flawless 6-0 in league play. Both North Stokes (10-3, 4-2) and Walkertown (8-6, 5-2) trail East Surry by two games in the loss column with just a few games left to play.
Friday night’s matchup between the two top strong teams in Northwest 1A play was the second meeting on the season. The first game saw East Surry rally from an early 10-4 deficit to win 11-10 in eight innings.
On the night, the Cardinals tallied five runs on eight hits, posted three errors and left five runners on base.
East Surry will travel to Kernersville on Tuesday to take on Bishop McGuinness in another Northwest 1A contest.