The Granite Bears battled Forsyth Country Day for nine innings before falling 6-4.
Wes Bumgardner started the game on the mound and pitched Mount Airy to a lead in 5 1/3 innings.
Forsyth tied the game on reliever Logan Holder in the top of the sixth, then John Cagle came on to get the final out of the inning and go the rest of the way.
“Wes pitched pretty well,” said Coach Jon Cawley. Bumgardner might have gone a little longer, but his pitch count was getting high, he noted.
His strike-to-ball ratio wasn’t quite high enough, but he battled each at-bat very well, Cawley said. On a cold, windy day against a tough team, it was a quality start.
On the night, the Bears walked five batters, and three of them came around to score. In fact, the visiting team only had four hits on the night.
The team was fairly solid on defense, but let Logan down a little in the sixth. Then in the ninth inning, it was an infield grounder that doomed the Bears. With runners aboard, the error allowed two runs to score for a 6-4 lead. Then the Bears weren’t able to catch up in the bottom of the ninth.
In a tie game like that, one play here or there makes a difference, said Cawley.
One example he gave was an at-bat by Austin Taylor.
The senior came up with men on second and third. He walloped a shot into the gap in rightcenter that would have scored both runners. However, the outfielder made a running over-the-shoulder catch to rob Taylor of at least a double.
Another crushing shot came from Benji Hicks. A football standout, the senior Hicks was playing his first baseball game since his freshman year.
HIcks hit the hardest ball of the night, said Cawley. He tattooed the ball to straightaway center. The ball hardly got off the ground in traveling 300 feet right to the centerfielder, he said. Just a little bit of elevation, and that ball was a home run.
Cawley said he never minds an out like that, but the team had too many strikeouts.
With 11 K’s in nine innings, that is nearly four innings’ worth of outs without making the defense work, he noted.
Hicks and Taylor are two of the four players who couldn’t join the team until the basketball season was over. Caleb Horton and Garrett VanHoy are the other two.
Taylor started at center, Hicks at first base and Horton at second. VanHoy was used as a courtesy runner and later as a substitute.
Filling out the starting lineup were catcher Sam Harris, shortstop Logan Young, third baseman David Sparger, leftfielder Colburn Gwyn and Cagle and Kenny Overfelt in right field.
Harris, the lone returning all-conference player, led off and reached base twice.