PILOT MOUNTAIN — The first meeting between East Surry and North Surry ended an inning early. On Tuesday night, the teams went down to the final swings of the night.
North Surry held a 3-0 lead on the state’s second-ranked 1A team when the Lady Cardinals stepped to the plate for their final swings of the night in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Lady Hounds needed just three outs to pull off the upset, but never got the final one.
The game ended with a four-run rally by East Surry (10-3 overall) after the visitors had gotten two outs with no one scoring.
With two down in the inning, senior Autumn Lawson finally got to North Surry pitcher Drew Beamer, who had gone the distance on eight hits up to that point. Lawson lined an 0-1 pitch to deep center field, driving in Maggie Holt and Sarah Marion to pull the Lady Cardinals within 3-2. Morgan Smith reached third base with the tying run.
This put the game down to cleanup hitter Grace Kiser, who had homered twice when the teams faced each other last week. Kiser was hitless to this point in the game, and had she been unsuccessful again, the game would have ended as a North Surry win. Beamer got ahead in the count 1-2 before Kiser put the ball in play, hitting a line drive to right field that fell in for extra bases. Both Smith and Lawson scored to give East Surry the 4-3 walk-off victory.
The Lady Hounds (7-7 overall) had led the game ever since the first inning. Lawson, pitching for East, retired the first two North Surry batters before Makara Woodbury doubled. Madison Bowman followed with a double to drive in Woodbury with the game’s first run, and then Ellie McHone followed that by swatting one into the shortstop hole to score Bowman.
East Surry tried to respond immediately, as Bethany Clayton and Smith opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back walks against Beamer. However, the North senior settled down and got three consecutive outs.
McHone extended the Lady Hounds’ lead to 3-0 in the top of the third inning, smashing a two-out double to right that scored Bowman. North was looking for more in its half of the fourth, when Karlie Marion drew a one-out walk and Abby Draughn followed with a bunt single, but Lawson bore down and fanned Evann Shelnutt and Beamer to escape the jam.
East put two one with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but Beamer fanned Holt and got Sarah Marion to pop up and preserved the 3-0 lead for her team.
Lawson was tested again in the fifth, this time with Woodbury and Bowman opening the inning with back-to-back hits. But she struck out McHone and then got Mia Simmons to ground into a double play, Kiser to Clayton.
Draughn and Shelnutt had singles with two out in the sixth, but Lawson got Beamer to fly out.
The game ultimately came down to the bottom of the seventh. Holt led off with a single to left. Sarah Marion was up next, and she looked at three balls before Beamer rallied to get a full count. On the 3-2 pitch, she lined the ball to left for a hit, putting runners on first and second.
Beamer struck out Allie McCraw on four pitches and no one was able to advance. Then she got Clayton, who entered the game hitting .608 on the season, to fly out for the second out. Smith was up next, and she lined a single to left. Bowman got to the ball in time to keep anyone from scoring, and the bases were loaded for Lawson.
North got within two strikes of victory three different times, but could never seal the deal.
The Lady Hounds outhit East Surry 11-8 and played error-free ball, while the Lady Cards committed two errors but didn’t allow any unearned runs as a result.
Bowman went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. McHone, Draughn and Woodbury also had two hits for the Lady Hounds. No East player had more than a single hit, and none had better than a single until Lawson and Kiser’s final two hits of the night.
North Surry travels to Ashe County on Monday night, while East returns to the diamond on Friday night at 7 p.m. against McMichael.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.