KING — The last time North Surry stepped onto the diamond at West Stokes High School, the Hounds suffered loss number five on the season after being upset by the Wildcats.
The Greyhounds returned to King 29 days later as part of the Western Piedmont 2A Conference Tournament. This time, however, the Hounds didn’t leave disappointed.
North (19-5, 9-3) won its 10th game in a row with an 8-3 victory over Walkertown. After starting the season 2-4, the Greyhounds are just one win away from their second 20-win season in the last 10 years.
The obstacle standing in the way of this accolade for the Hounds is a formidable one to say the least: the Forbush Falcons. Forbush (19-5, 11-1) and North Surry haven’t faced off since mid-March, when the Falcons outscored the Hounds 22-9 in a two-game span.
North Surry boasts a 17-1 record following back-to-back losses to Forbush. The most recent of which was the WPAC semifinal against Walkertown (15-8, 9-4).
Wednesday’s game started off relatively even. Each team had walked away from the first inning with a run on the board and at least two hits. Walkertown even went up 4-2 on the hit count in the top of the second, but the Wolfpack’s luck seemed to run out after North forced a double play. Greyhound pitcher Mackenzie Cooke ended the top of the inning with a strikeout.
Bret Johnson got things goings with a double that resulted from a Wolfpack error, a dropped fly ball to right field. A sacrifice grounder from Ethan Oakley moved Bret to third but was also the second out of the inning. The first was a strikeout to North’s Calvin Johnson.
Mason Gwyn came to the plate and sent a line drive to left field that scored Bret Johnson, giving the Hounds a 2-1 lead. Kobe Slate followed suit with an RBI single of his own, scoring Gwyn on a shot down the third-base line. Slate moved into scoring position after Walkertown’s third baseman bobbled a hit from Nick Badgett. The bases were loaded when Cooke was hit by a pitch, but the next batter grounded out to end the inning.
North got two quick outs in the top of the third following an initial walk. Both outs were fielder’s choices at second. Walkertown’s John Ward broke the Pack’s unlucky streak with an absolute bomb down the first-base line that ended up being an RBI triple, cutting the Hound lead to 3-2.
Calvin and Bret Johnson each made it on base at the onset of the bottom of the third. Oakley then hit a fly ball that was caught with the corners painted, but Bret had taken off toward second and had to retreat to first. When Walkertown tried to get him out at first, Calvin took off toward the plate. The ball was dropped at first, allowing Calvin to score and Bret to make it back to the base.
Gwyn was up to bat and the Hounds up 4-2 with two outs. Gwyn walked, moving Bret Johnson into scoring position. Both Gwyn and Johnson were in scoring position after a wild pitch thrown with Slate at bat. Slate promptly drilled a double to drive in both runners and put the Greyhounds up 6-2.
The Wolfpack were able to get hits, but couldn’t get the baserunners to the plate. Walkertown had two players in scoring position with a single out in the top of the fourth. The runner at second was caught trying to steal, and the next batter flew out to leave a runner on third.
North Surry, on the other hand, kept the momentum alive with three hits in the bottom of the fourth. Cooke took the first pitch of the inning and turned it into a double. Cooke was followed by singles from Clay Tompkins and Calvin Johnson. Bret Johnson scored Calvin and Tompkins on a two-RBI double that nearly soared over the right-field fence.
Walkertown switched pitchers when North went up 8-2. The Pack forced two flyouts to get back at bat.
Two walks in the top of the fifth and a wild pitch put runners on second and third. Chase Swartz went to the mound, but immediately gave up an RBI single, allowing Walkertown to cut the lead to 8-3. Swartz then forced two flyouts, ending the inning.
The hitting clinic by the Hounds may have slowed down, but it didn’t keep them out of scoring position. Badgett was the only Greyhound to get on base in the fifth inning, but Walkertown errors put Badgett on third base. He would, however, be left on base as the fifth inning came to a close.
The rest of the game went much faster than the first five innings. Walkertown only had one hit in the final two frames. The Greyhounds did manage to load the bases at their final at-bat in the bottom of the sixth, but couldn’t put another mark on the scoreboard.
But eight runs proved enough. North Surry has now scored at least six runs in nine of its past 10 wins. They hope to continue this trend heading into the WPAC Championship Game against Forbush on Friday.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith