PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry booked its ticket to the Elite Eight with a 6-2 win over the East Wilkes Cardinals. But for a while, it looked as if the battle of the Cardinals would leave East Surry with a bitter taste in the Sweet 16.
AJ Wilson brought the home team back from an early 2-0 deficit by throwing 16 strikeouts. It was a number of errors from East Surry that gave East Wilkes its only two runs of the night.
Wilson’s perfect game was ruined after Sean Sidden turned the first pitch of the game into a single straight up the middle. Sidden advanced to scoring position after Bryce Vestal’s hit was overthrown at second. Another fielding error by East Surry led to the first run of the game. The ball was overthrown at first on a hit from Caeden Howell. This let Sidden come in to score, and both Vestal and Howell to move into scoring position.
Brannon Church hit the ball up the first-base line, allowing Vestal to cross the plate. However, Church ran into Wilson before he could grab the ball. This led to an interference call, forcing an out and putting Vestal back on third. He would, however, score the second run of the night on an East Surry error.
East Surry had vengeance on its mind when it was its turn to bat. Only one of the first nine pitches by East Wilkes was called a strike. John Marion was walked, Garrett Willoughby was hit by a pitch, and Wilson hit a single to load the bases. Kain Kiser struck out for East Surry’s first out, but then another walk on Cameron Whitaker scored Marion, cutting the lead to 2-1. A wild pitch allowed Willoughby to come home and tie the game at 2-2.
The top of the second looked to be another rough ride for East Surry when Wilson hit the first batter. He made up for it with three straight strikeouts to put East Surry back at the plate.
Colby Guy led-off and got a single. Guy stole second, and then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Eli Bullington. Marion and Willoughby loaded the bases after being hit and walked, respectively. A wild pitch led Guy score, giving East Surry a 3-2 lead.
East Wilkes was held hit-less in the final five innings. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth that East Surry extended its lead. Tyler Chilton’s RBI double scored Cameron Whitaker to put the home team up 4-2. In the bottom of sixth, a wild pitch scored Guy, and Bullington scored on a sacrifice fly from Wilson.
The inside of East Surry’s dugout says “Iron sharpens Iron.” Tuesday’s game may not have been pretty all the way through, but a win is a win. East Surry will host the winner of Polk County and Lincoln Charter on Friday at Barry Hall Field.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith