Back-to-back wins seemed nearly impossible mere weeks ago for a struggling Surry Central squad. Fast-forward to now and the Golden Eagles are riding their longest win streak of the season.
Central improved to 8-11 on the season with a 5-2 victory against Mount Airy. Wednesday’s win is the team’s third straight.
The Granite Bears (10-7, 4-4) were riding a win streak of their own coming into Wednesday’s game. Mount Airy got back over .500 with four straight wins following a four-game losing streak.
The Eagles’ Mason Wood was the star early on, keeping the Bears hit-less for three innings. Wood pitched all seven innings and finished with six strikeouts.
It wasn’t until the second inning that the runs started pouring in. Mount Airy’s Alex Hall walked three batters to start the inning. A wild pitch during the Central’s third batter, Wood, allowed Ryan Martin to take home and put the Eagles up 1-0.
Holden Poindexter took the mound and immediately forced two outs, one via groundout and the other being a strikeout.
Casan Lawson then hit a two-RBI single that scored Alex Hooker and Gabe Simmons. Lawson advanced to second after Mount Airy tried to get Simmons out at home. The Eagles threatened to score again with bases loaded. The Bears were bailed out when a groundout ended the inning.
Mount Airy went three up, three down in the bottom of the second to put Central back at-bat. Poindexter started the inning with a strikeout, but then put two batters on base by hitting Hooker and giving up a single to Wood.
With Simmons up to bat, the Eagles had runners on first and third. Bears catcher Baylor Brinkley tried to catch Wood’s designated runner cheating off first, causing the runner to go to second. Hooker was able to steal home when Mount Airy’s first baseman threw the ball to second to try to get the runner out. This allowed Central to score without giving up an out, increasing the lead to 4-0.
Mount Airy sent batters seven, eight, and nine to the plate and each was sent back. Wood forced two groundouts and added a strikeout to end the inning.
Cory Dutton subbed in at pitcher to start the top of the fourth in hopes of shaking up the Eagles’ rhythm. Lawson was up to bat first and hit a single. Daniel Layne joined his teammate on base after being walked. The bases were loaded after a single from Dakota Sumner.
Martin drove in Lawson and put the Golden Eagles ahead 5-0.
Mount Airy needed to get runners on-base to avoid the game getting out of control. In the bottom of the fourth, the team did just that. Luke Welch ended Wood’s no-hitter with a double that nearly went over the fence. Clay Taylor followed suit with a double of his own, scoring Welch and getting the Bears on the board, 5-1.
It looked like Mount Airy was building a bit of momentum in the top of the fifth when it forced three straight outs. This continued into the bottom of the inning when Cooper Nester and Brinkley each hit singles. The bases were loaded when Simon Cawley was walked.
Then, something peculiar happened. Robert Brown approached the plate with just one out and hit a line drive between first and second. Brown’s hit made contact with Cawley. The officials ruled the play dead, Cawley out, and allowed each player to advance one base. This, of course, sent Nester home.
This resulted in discussion between both coaches and the officials. When the four dispersed, the run counted and Brown stayed on first. The inning ended when the next batter struck out.
Mount Airy’s baserunning misfortune proved to be the climax of the game. The team’s combined for just one hit and two bases on balls in the final two innings. That one hit gave Central the hit advantage for the game, 5-4.
Surry Central has just two games remaining in the season. Both are against Atkins (8-11, 2-8) next week. Mount Airy also has two games remaining, home games against Starmount and North Surry.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith