First Posted: 5/1/2009
After a tough loss to Bishop McGuinness last week and a rough start to the rematch Friday, Mount Airy baseball responded strongly, coming from behind to defeat the visiting Villains 5-3 in the last regular season game of the year.
The win improves the Granite Bears to 13-7 overall and 11-4 in Northwest 1A Conference play and solidifies a third place finish.
The Bears will share third place with the loser of todays East Surry-Bishop McGuinness matchup.
Mount Airy ace Christian Easter had a less than stellar start compared to the majority of his outings this season, giving up five walks and two runs in the first two innings.
Easter settled down however, blanking the Villains until the top of the seventh and giving his team the win. After the shaky opening, Easter finished with 13 strikeouts and five walks.
The first two innings he struggled with his control a little bit, but from the third inning on he settled back into his groove, Mount Airy coach Mack Hodges said. It may have been pitching on short rest, but he walked five kids in the first two innings and didnt walk anybody else the rest of the night. For Bishop to start off hitting well like they did and for him to buckle down after the third was big for us.
Bishop took its 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth before the Bears finally made an appearance on the scoreboard.
At the plate, Mount Airy was led by Ben Hinson who finished 2-for-3 with one run scored, and was followed by Torrance Hamilton (2-for-3) and Kody Easter (1-for-3, two RBIs).
After a slow start offensively, Hodges said he was very pleased with the way his team was able to alter its batting philosophy against a Bishop pitcher who presented an unusual challenge.
I told the kids after the game tonight the thing I was the most proud of was that we adjusted at the plate, Hodges said. Bishops pitcher didnt throw very hard and early in the game we were early and popping it up and not getting any good contact. There later in the game we started taking what we could get and we had some punch base hits and it scored a couple of runs. After that we just kind of settled in.
The Bears ripped off two runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings, and added another in the bottom of the sixth to put the load squarely on the arm of Easter and the bats of Bishop.
Hodges said he thinks his team was aggravated following the slow start and used that as motivation to come out victorious in the end, also adding he thinks the Bears are as tough an out at home as anyone in the conference.
We hadnt lost at home since the first game of the season, he said. They are very confident at home and they dont want to lose at home. They like the fact we play well here. I think the slow start frustrated them but they calmed themselves down and refocused and did what they had to do.
With the conference and state tournaments looming, Hodges said he is particularly proud of this years team.
For the kids I am proud because this is the best year Mount Airy has had in baseball in 20 years probably, he said. Its been a long time. I am just proud of the kids for everything they have done this year and the things we are still going to accomplish for the rest of the season.
Mount Airy will play a team to be named later Tuesday at home in the first round of the Northwest 1A Conference tournament, with the remainder of the tournament games scheduled to be played at East Wilkes.
Mount Airy 5,
Bishop McGuinness 3
Bishop McGuinness 200 000 1 3 5 0
Mount Airy 000 221 x 5 11 0
WP: Christian Easter; LP: Brandon Gray
2B: BM Urban
HOUNDS’ HOT BATS KEEP ROLLING
BOONVILLE So much for first-game jitters.
North Surry freshman call-up Jacob Pelfrey stepped into the starting shortstop role, picked up the win by pitching the final innings and batted 4-for-5 with three RBIs to help the Greyhounds (7-10, 5-7 Mountain Valley 2A) outlast host Starmount, 13-11, Friday.
North Surry was playing without its No. 4 and No. 5 hitters. Champ Reynolds was out with a fractured arm and Justin Mabe was sick.
Pelfrey wasnt the only Greyhound with a big day at the plate, evidenced by North Surrys season-high 18 hits. Josh Holderfield continued his hot streak, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Holderfield was 4-for-4 on Thursday.
Hes been on a tear lately, North Surry coach Tim Collins said. The last four games hes hitting over .700
Taylor Hull smacked a homer and finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs. In the past two games, North Surry has cranked 32 hits. The difference, according to Collins, has been the teams approach.
Weve been more patient at the plate, Collins said. Weve taken the ball to the opposite field and to the middle of the field.
Before Pelfrey took to the mound, Wes Hunter started and let up three runs in the first inning before settling down and not allowing another run.
The Greyhounds face off against Surry Central Monday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Mountain Valley tournament. That game will be played at Surry Central, while the semifinals (Wednesday at 5 and 7 p.m.) and finals (Thursday at 7 p.m.) take place at North Surry.
North Surry 13,
NS 301 421 2 13 18 0
ST 300 700 1 11 13 4
WP: Jacob Pelfrey; LP: Justin Snow
2B: NS Cody Palmer, Logan Maines, Sidney Hall, Ryan Stone; ST Sam Coe, Caleb Pardue, Tyler Howard, Jake Barr, Justin Snow. HR: NS Taylor Hull; ST Barr