WINSTON-SALEM — The Mount Airy baseball team is a long way from where it wants to be, but the Granite Bears have already erased the disappointing legacy of last season.
Mount Airy began Northwest 1A Conference play on Tuesday evening at Atkins, and got a surprisingly touch challenge from Camels pitcher Jacob Holder, who tossed a complete-game four-hitter at them and didn’t allow any runs over the final four innings of the contest. However, the Bears held the Camels to three hits and pulled out a 3-2 victory.
The win allowed the Bears (3-4, 1-0 NW1A) to match their victory total from all of the 2016 season with two-thirds of the schedule left to be played.
Mount Airy scored single runs in each of the first three innings, with Matthew Dodd, Trey Simmons and Cole Shelton each scoring. Chris Chanclor had an RBI double for the visitors, and the other two runs were scored on sacrifice flies.
Robert Brown got the call on the mound for the Bears, but coach Simon Cawley pulled him after just 28 pitches. He got credit for the win after going 1 1/3 innings with three strikeouts, but the coaching staff was concerned that he was dealing with a cold and decided to save him for later in the week. Cooper Nester came in and pitched the next 4 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out five. Against Nester, the Camels scored twice, one in the third and one in the fifth, although one of the runs was unearned.
Nester and the Bears got themselves into a pickle in the last of the sixth inning, after he had fanned the first two Camel batters. Atkins’ Noah Cruz, who had already reached base twice in the contest, ended up on second base after a bad throw. Things got even shakier for Mount Airy when Ryan Rumple looked at ball four on a full count, and the ball went to the backstop for a wild pitch. This put runners on the corners with two out, and induced Cawley to bring Matthew Dodd into the game to pitch.
Dodd got ahead of Hunter Weavil 0-2, but Weavil put the next ball in play up the middle for what looked like a game-tying single. However, Bears shortstop Clay Taylor was on the ball from the start, ranged to his left beyond second base, stopped the ball and fired to first for the out.
Taylor led off the Mount Airy seventh with a double, and moved to third on a one-out balk, but Holder buckled down and struck out the next two Mount Airy batters to give his team a chance down by just one run.
In the Camels’ seventh, Dodd retired the first two batters but then walked Tyler Garoutte. Garoutte immediately swiped second base, and Xavier Kelly hit a rocket to deep left field on a 1-1 pitch, but Mount Airy’s Clayton Cogdill ran it down to secure the win.
Simmons, Shelton, Chanclor and Taylor each had a single hit, and those were the only Bear hits of the evening. Shelton had a triple, Chanclor and Taylor each a double.
The Bears will rematch with Surry Central tonight in Dobson, then host Atkins on Friday night.