Mount Airy hosted four games Saturday in the Playing 4 a Cure Baseball Showcase.
Local teams split their games 2-2, but the big winner was the state ALS chapter.
Organizer Mack Hodges said the attendance and concessions raised roughly $2,700 to benefit research into Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Former Surry County commissioner Craig Hunter, who is battling ALS, was at the ballpark for about six hours Saturday, mingling with fans. He, wife Michele and son Gaines went out to the mound together before the Mount Airy game so that Gaines could throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Craig was very excited about everything going on and seemed to enjoy himself, said Hodges.
Hodges, who previously coached the Bears baseball team, thanked Coach Jon Cawley and his staff for making things run smoothly.
He said he appreciates everyone coming out to support this cause, especially the four teams from outside the area who traveled here: Starmount, Ashe County, Wilkes Central and East Wilkes.
He also gave thanks to the many local business sponsors who helped behind the scenes.
It was a really good day for a really good cause today, said Cawley. The fans were treated to some good ball games. North Surry won 12-5, and Surry Central and East Surry came very close to wins in their games, he noted.
The undefeated Wilkes Central Eagles came into the weekend as the top-ranked 2A team in the state. Cawley said East Surry did a great job competing with the Eagles like that.
The score was close at 3-2 before the Eagles pulled ahead 9-3. Then the Cardinals rallied to make it 9-7.
Cleanup hitter Jordan Miller hammered a long fly ball with a runner on base that could have tied the game, but the outfielder caught the ball at the fence for the third out.
In the top of the seventh, Wilkes Central pulled away for a 15-7 win.
The Card coaches said they were proud of their guys for battling hard and making a late rally.
The Surry Central/Starmount game was close throughout.
After Starmount scored an unearned run, Caleb Creed hit an RBI single and Cole Fowler an RBI double to give the Eagles the lead.
After Starmount tied it up, Fowler hit a two-run single for a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
The Rams got a run on a fielder’s choice, then after Jake Henley gave way to Hunter Smith, the Rams got an RBI double that plated two for a 5-4 lead. A sacrifice fly made it 6-4.
The Golden Eagles loaded the bases, but Austin Stevens hit a fly ball to end the threat.
Starmount got two more in the sixth to go up 8-4, but the Eagles rallied in the bottom half.
Caleb Mitchell brought in a run with a single, then Ethan Wilmoth walked to force in another. After a wild pitch brought in a run, Preston Cave came up with two aboard, but flew out to right. The Eagles lost 8-7.
Surry Central played a good game, noted Cawley. Just another pitch or two going different could have changed the outcome of that game, he said.
North Surry beat Ashe County 12-5 in the third game before Mount Airy and East Wilkes finished off the showcase.
In the top of the first, the Cardinals had a runner in scoring position, but centerfielder Austin Taylor chased down a long fly ball to save a run.
Then Taylor doubled in the bottom half and came home on a Sam Harris triple to rightcenter. Choppy Cawley brought the catcher’s courtesy runner home for a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, East got a leadoff single. The next batter hit a hard grounder to first that skidded on the last bounce and went under the first baseman’s glove. The ball ricocheted off his foot toward rightfield, but second baseman Wes Hurley was on the move and chased it down for a putout at first.
After an error allowed the runner on second to score, first baseman Kenny Overfelt caught a liner and tagged the runner out for an inning-ending double play.
In the third inning, Harris hit a two-out double. Hurley dropped a bunt and was called out at first. The ball appeared to reach first before the runner, but the first baseman came off the bag to make the catch.
Cawley appealed to the second base official, who conferred with the home plate umpire who saw the foot leave the bag.
The reversal put runners on the corners, then Choppy Cawley hit a 330-foot home run over the leftfield fence for a 5-1 lead.
Coach Cawley said he appreciated the officials working together to get the call right.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, but the next batter hit a shot to third baseman Caleb Horton, who stepped on the bag for the final out.
In the bottom half, Overfelt walked and thought pinch hitter David Sparger also had walked and trotted down to second.
That wasn’t the fourth ball, but East Wilkes seemed confused and didn’t throw the runner out.
When ball four did come, Overfelt stole third in a more traditional way.
Logan Young then hit a liner just past the pitcher for an RBI single and a 6-1 lead.
That started a barrage of hitting that saw the Bears post 14 runs in one inning. They scored five times before making their first out.
The coach said he challenged his team to score six runs in the inning to go up 11-1. Then if the Bears shut out East Wilkes in the top of the fifth, the game would be called early.
“We don’t 10-run people,” said Cawley, but the Bears were hot in the fourth.
The Bears were up 19-1 after three runners crossed on a single and an outfield error. An appeal took one of the runs back as the umpire ruled that the last runner had failed to touch home.
With a field full of reserves, Choppy Cawley pitched the fifth inning and gave up four runs, but the game ended 18-5.
That was a defensive lineup that the team had never used, the coach said.
“We had a lefthanded second baseman,” he noted.
While the win was great, Cawley said the moment that will stick with him was seeing the Hunter family on the mound for the first pitch.
Craig has done a lot for the baseball program over the years, the coach said. Not only did he serve as an assistant coach and JV coach for a while, Hunter helped raise funds to build the brick backstop and netting fence, among other things, Cawley said.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.