It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
North Surry (13-5) turned a rocky start into the team’s 14th win in Thursday’s nonconference game against Mountain Valley Conference leader West Wilkes. The Greyhounds’ 8-6 win over the Blackhawks marks the team’s fourth straight win and the 12th win in the past 13 games.
West Wilkes (14-4) came out of the gate ready to play in The Kennel. Alex Ortiz began the game with a triple for the Blackhawks. Ortiz scored on an RBI single from teammate Cory Lackey.
Colton Stotler was then walked, and both he and Lackey advanced with a sacrifice bunt from Caleb Miles. Luke Huffman hammered a two-RBI triple to increase the lead to 3-0.
Chase Swartz was brought in to replace Daniel Bunn on the mound after a walk. Swartz struck out his first batter, but then gave up an RBI single to go down 4-0. Swartz ended the nightmare first inning with another strikeout.
The Hounds fought back in the bottom of the inning by loading the bases. Kobe Slate led off with a single, was joined by the walked Ethan Oakley, and finally Mackenzie Cooke got to first on a Blackhawk error.
Nick Badgett hit an RBI single to score Slate and cut the lead to 4-1. But Clay Tompkins hit into a forceout at home.
Swartz went three up, three down in the top of the second and third innings after the Blackhawks batted through the entire lineup in the first inning.
The Hounds bested West Wilkes’ four-run first inning with five runs of their own in the bottom of the third. The bases were loaded after a Badgett single, Tompkins was hit by a pitch, and Calvin Johnson was walked.
Blaike Watts was walked with bases loaded, letting Badgett score. The Hounds tied the game when a fly ball from Bret Johnson was dropped in left field, allowing Johnson and Triston Atkins, running for Tompkins, to score.
A wild pitch went out of play allowing Watts to cross home plate, giving North its first lead of the night. They pulled ahead 6-4 on an RBI double from Mason Gwyn.
North Surry kept the good times rolling in the bottom of the fourth. Cooke led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly from Badgett. Tompkins’ RBI single scored Cooke and put the Hounds up 7-4.
The Greyhounds scored their final run of the evening in the bottom of the fourth off an RBI single from Badgett, scoring Oakley.
The Blackhawks couldn’t seem to catch a break. The Greyhound defense was on-point, even catching a West Wilkes player trying to steal and tagging him out sliding back to second. Potential trouble for North was avoided when a potential big hit by West in the top of the sixth was chased down and caught in right-centerfield.
West Wilkes continued to fight, even into the final inning. North Surry got two quick outs, but then two walks put the Blackhawks in scoring position. Luke Huffman hit a grounder that North Surry overthrew at first. This allowed two runners to score and cut the lead to 8-6.
The Greyhounds finally put the Blackhawks away with a groundout for the win.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith