Even a late-season rivalry game wasn’t enough to cool off one of the hottest teams in the state.
Host Mount Airy gave streaking North Surry a run for its money on Friday night, bouncing back from a poor start to get within a run in the third and fourth innings, but the Greyhounds tore off three hits for two more runs in the top of the fifth inning and pitchers Mason Gwyn and Chase Swartz did the rest as North Surry claimed a 6-3 victory.
The win was the eighth in a row and 15th out of 16 for the Hounds (17-5 overall), who have dropped just one game since March 16.
Gwyn threw 95 pitches in six complete innings, allowing four hits and striking out eight. Swartz came in and tossed a perfect seventh inning to earn a save. Their counterpart for the Granite Bears, Cooper Nester, was solid in going the distance for his team, but three errors in the first inning helped Mount Airy dig an early hole. The Bears eventually committed five errors to just one for their guests.
Giving the Hounds extra outs isn’t advisable, but Mount Airy (10-8) did exactly that in the first inning. North already had runners at the corners with no one out after Kobe Slate and Nick Badgett started things off by reaching on back-to-back boots by the Bears’ infield. Mack Cooke hit a sacrifice fly to score Slate and give North an unearned 1-0 lead.
Mount Airy continued its early self-destruction after that. Clay Tompkins reached on another error as Badgett raced to third base. Blaike Watts then earned his way on base with a walk, and the bases were loaded with Hounds with one down.
Nester had already gotten four outs in the inning and retired the next two batters as well, but his defense betrayed him one more time, on a passed ball that allowed Badgett to score. A strikeout and a groundout allowed the Bears to get out of the inning down just 2-0.
Slate and Badgett made it 3-0 for the Hounds in the top of the second, and earned it this time, as Slate stroked a two-out double to left and scored on a single by Badgett.
The Bears began to fight back in the last of the third. After Gwyn had gotten the first two Mount Airy batters on a groundout and a strikeout, Robert Brown drew a full-count walk and brought up Luke Welch. The junior sent a 1-0 offering into the night, driving the ball over the center-field fence to pull his team within 3-2.
North got one of the runs back in its next trip to the plate. Calvin Johnson walked on five pitches leading off the fourth. Ethan Oakley sacrificed him into scoring position, and he later scored on a Brett Johnson groundout.
The Bears’ Clay Taylor led his team’s half of the fourth with a single and quickly stole second base. Evan Dorsett moved him over to third on a groundout, and Ryan Edwards swatted a single to score Taylor and make it 4-3. The Bears had the potential tying run on base, but Gwyn bore down and got the next two batters to preserve the Hounds’ lead.
North got its sticks going again in the fifth. Badgett led off with a single and scored when Cooke drilled a double into right field that allowed him to come all the way around to score. Nester got Tompkins on a lineout and then fanned Watts, but Calvin Johnson lined a 2-2 pitch into right field to score Cooke and increase the Hounds’ lead to 6-3.
The Bears earned a walk in each of the next two frames, but lost the runner to a double play in the fifth. In the sixth, Taylor walked with one out and then Gwyn mowed down the next two batters on just eight pitches.
In the seventh, Nester reached on an error with one down for the home team, but a strikeout and a flyout nailed down the win for North Surry.
The Hounds had just six hits, with Badgett (2-for-4) the only player with more than one. Cooke had two RBI, while Badgett and Slate each scored two runs. No Bear had more than one hit, with Welch’s homer the biggest blow.
The victory completed the regular season for both teams. The Hounds ended up with the No. 2 spot in the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference, tied for second with Walkertown, but with a season sweep of the Wolfpack. They will move on to the WPAC Tournament next week. The Bears finished tied for second with North Stokes in the Northwest 1A, and will also move on to their conference tournament.
North Surry 2, Wilkes Central 1
On Thursday, the Hounds won the annual Larry J. Bauguess Memorial Game for the third year in a row, beating host Wilkes Central 2-1 in a game that was called after five innings due to the weather.
The game is played every season in Winston-Salem at the BB&T Ballpark, home of the Winston-Salem Dash, and Wilkes Central has chosen North as its opponent a number of times. North Surry is the only school other than Wilkes Central to ever win the game.
Cooke went the distance on 72 pitches for the Hounds, allowing just three hits. He got things going for North in the top of the fourth when he got hit by a pitch. Cooke moved up to second on a Badgett groundout, and then scored following back-to-back singles by Tompkins and Calvin Johnson.
The Eagles got the run back in the bottom of the fourth, but Oakley and Johnson turned a nifty 4-6-3 twin killing to get Cooke out of any more trouble.
A Brett Johnson triple set the table in the top of the fifth, and he came in to score on a groundout by Cooke to put North back in front 2-1. Three straight grounders in the last half of the inning ended up netting the Hounds a win after the weather failed to cooperate further.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.