DOBSON — The Surry Central baseball team was clearly outhit and arguably outpitched in its Saturday afternoon NCHSAA Endowment showdown with county rival East Surry.
However, what the Golden Eagles may have lacked at the plate, they more than made up for with the leather, playing errorless ball and riding their gloves to a 2-1 victory over the mistake-prone Cardinals.
“You win a lot of games with zero errors on the board,” said Surry Central coach Matt Scott, who said that the only defensive issues his team had were because he had them positioned wrong several times. “Good teams win with defense and pitching. We were fairly even on the mound today, but we got a pretty good effort out of our defense.”
The Eagles (2-1) drew first blood in a pitchers’ duel between Jed Kidd and East Surry’s Kam Kiser, taking a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Cardinals responded in the next half-inning with the game’s only earned run, but then coughed up another run to Surry Central in the bottom of the sixth. East Surry got a runner to third base with one out in the seventh and had the potential go-ahead run on first base, but Eagle reliever Tyler Myers pitched his way out of the jam.
The Cardinals (1-2) had seven hits to the hosts’ two and didn’t allow any earned runs, but committed four errors in the field and also had a costly passed ball.
“We’ve had two games now where we’ve kind of kicked it around a little bit,” said East Surry coach Chad Freeman. “One of the points of emphasis after our game with South Stokes is that we were going to have to field the ball a little bit better, and we didn’t do that today.”
Neither team had much in the way of success offensively in the first four innings. The Cardinals got a two-out single from Alex Eubanks in the third and a one-out single from Corbin Kiser in the fourth, but neither advanced beyond second base. Surry Central collected its first hit from Ethan Danley in the fourth, and then East Surry’s defense proceeded to put its pitcher into a jam.
The next batter, Noah Wilmoth, hit into a possible double play ball, but the Cardinals’ second baseman botched the pivot and East Surry didn’t get any outs. Fortunately, Kam Kiser was up to the challenge, striking out Riley Dockery and then getting Michael Roberts on a popup to escape the jam.
The Cardinals couldn’t wiggle off the hook in the fifth. Chandler Daughenbaugh singled with one out. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Danley’s groundout, and then scored when the Cardinals’ infield bobbled another grounder, allowing Wilmoth to reach and Daughenbaugh to score.
East Surry tied it in the top of the sixth and could have had more than just the one run. John Marion singled with one out, moved up on a passed ball, and then tried to score on a single to left by Blake Marion. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Central left fielder Chandler Johnson threw a perfect strike to Daughenbaugh behind the plate, and John Marion was out with several feet to spare.
Wyatt Guy followed with a single of his own, scoring Blake Marion with the tying run, but the Eagles escaped with no more damage by getting A.J. Wilson to fly out.
“(Johnson) hasn’t practiced much in left field,” said Scott. “He’s only had about two or three days outside working in the outfield and he could not have played any better than he did today.”
Michael Roberts led off the Central sixth with a walk, then stole second base and advanced to third on a ground ball to the right side by Garrett Durham. The Cardinals pulled the infield in to try to cut off any run at the plate, but the strategy failed when Tyler Myers reached on the fourth East Surry error of the game. Roberts scored what proved to be the winning run on the play.
By this time, Myers, who had begun the game as the team’s designated hitter, was on the mound for Surry Central. He got off to a bad start in the Cardinals’ seventh, when Alex Eubanks and Staymon Johnson greeted him with back-to-back singles. Eubanks stole third base on a missed sacrifice attempt, but Myers fanned Corbin Kiser for the first out. The next two East Surry batters both managed to put the ball in play, but Eubanks declined to test the arm of Central center fielder Wilmoth when Jared Marion hit a hard liner right at him for the second out.
Tyler Smith, the final batter of the game for the Cardinals, flew out to Chandler Johnson and the game was over.
Freeman said that his team has to improve defensively and with getting baserunners home in order to be successful.
“We’re going to work on (the defense), and we’ll find people that will make the plays,” he said. “I can’t complain with Kam Kiser at all. It was his first outing as a sophomore on varsity, and he gave us everything we asked for.
“We hit the ball hard several times in the game, but we hit it right at people. We’ve got to find a way to score a few more runs to match up with the pitching performances.”
Eubanks, who was 2-fof-3, was the only player to have multiple hits in the game.
The Golden Eagles will have one of their toughest tests of the season on Wednesday, when Central hosts 4-A power West Forsyth. East Surry will visit North Surry on Tuesday night.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.