EAST BEND — It appears as if Surry Central’s baseball team is peaking at just the right time.
The Golden Eagles paid a visit to already-crowned Western Piedmont Athletic Conference champion Forbush on Friday night, with the state’s second-ranked 2A team honoring the program’s 50th anniversary and also having Senior Night for six of its players.
The only thing the Falcons didn’t have was a win. That went to Surry Central, which never trailed in claiming an 8-3 victory that gave the Golden Eagles outright second place in the conference, and paid Forbush back for spoiling Senior Night in Dobson on the previous evening.
Central (16-6 overall, 7-3 WPAC) became the only team to defeat the Falcons (19-3, 9-1) in conference play this season, and the victory allowed the Eagles to finish one game in front of South Stokes and North Surry for second place in the league. The win also means that Central earns a bye in the first round of the WPAC Tournament next week. Unless someone other than the Eagles or Falcons wins the tournament, Surry Central is locked into the No. 2 conference seed for the upcoming state playoffs and a likely first-round home game.
The Eagles had come into the regular season’s last two days with a chance to tie for the WPAC title if it could sweep Forbush, but beating the Falcons once is tough enough, let alone doing so on consecutive nights. In fact, going into Friday night, Forbush hadn’t lost to anyone except a pair of 4A powerhouses — West Forsyth beat them 4-3 in their season opener back on the last day of February, and they lost at Garner on April 19 after a long bus ride.
On Thursday night at Central, the Eagles led 1-0 after an inning of play, but had several defensive breakdowns over the next two innings and trailed 8-2 after three. Central rallied with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but 8-5 was as close as they could get. They had only themselves to blame, though — no team can expect to beat anyone, even a bad team, if they commit eight errors. Only two of the runs the Eagles allowed were earned.
Central had missed a chance at a conference co-championship, but the No. 2 spot was still on the line the next night, as well as a chance to redeem themselves for a bad game and to mess up the Falcons’ Senior Night.
Forbush started one of their seniors on the mound, Tyler Campbell, who held a perfect 6-0 record and a 2.52 ERA coming in. The Eagles jumped on him 1-0 in the top of the first, but the Falcons eked out a run in their half of the first against Central senior Tyler Myers and tied the game. However, that was the last time the teams were even. The Eagles pushed another run across in the second inning and took a 2-1 lead.
The Surry Central bats came alive in the fourth, adding three runs to their side of the ledger and extending the lead to 5-1. Myers spun another zero in the last of the frame and the Eagles were in control. The Falcons got another run in the fifth, but no more, and Central imnediately answered with another three in the top of the sixth, in which they knocked Campbell out of the game. The only response Forbush could muster was another single run in the last half-inning.
Myers went the distance, throwing 104 pitches. The hard-hitting Falcons had nine hits, including a home run, and all three of their runs were earned, but he stood his ground against every Forbush challenge, and got solid defense behind him.
The Eagles pounded out 15 hits against two Falcon pitchers. Ethan Danley, Myers, Chandler Daughenbaugh, Ryan Gordon, Jed Kidd, Tyler Whitaker and Michael Roberts all had two hits in the win. Noah Wilmoth had the other hit, along with a sacrifice fly that made him one of two Central players with two RBI. Roberts also drove in two, with Whitaker and Myers each collecting one RBI. Preston Mooney crossed home plate with three of the Central runs; Whitaker, Kidd, Gordon, Dakota Sumner and Danley had the others.
On Wednesday, the Eagles picked up two wins without even playing. Rather than play the games, Carver elected to forfeit both ends of a scheduled doubleheader. These wins, which Central was extremely likely to have earned on the field anyway, set up a repeat of last year, when the Eagles finished the season with an outside chance of the conference title.
That didn’t happen, but Surry Central heads into the postseason as the only 2A team in the state which has been able to hand Forbush a defeat this spring.