WALNUT COVE — East Surry defeated Surry Central 6-2 on Thursday to advance to the final of the Northwest Conference Tournament.
The Cardinals scored three runs in the sixth inning, then escaped from a bases-loaded jam in the seventh behind the pitching of Scott Meredith.
The junior righthander threw all seven innings, giving up eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts, the last one coming against cleanup hitter Caleb Mitchell on the final pitch.
Mitchell represented the tying run at the plate, but Meredith caught him out on his front foot with an off-speed pitch to preserve the win.
With the home team exploding for a 15-1 win over West Stokes in the nightcap, East Surry will face South Stokes Monday at 7 p.m. for the tournament title.
Surry Central and West Stokes finished in a tie for first in the conference, then both lost in the semifinal.
In order to determine who gets the automatic bid into the state 2A playoffs, the two teams will have to play each other in a tiebreaker game, according to East Coach Barry Hall.
In Thursday’s game, both the Cards and Eagles broke through for a run in the first inning.
East’s Logan Sheets walked and was bunted to second by Jeremy Gilley. A grounder to first by Drew Wilson moved Sheets to third.
Alec Wilson hit a grounder into the hole on the left side. Forrest Kimbrell made a good stop and an accurate long throw, but Wilson beat out the play as Sheets crossed home.
Central needed only one pitch to answer. Jake Wilmoth sent Meredith’s first offering over the fence in center to tie it 1-1. Wilmoth also homered in Tuesday’s win over Bishop.
In the third inning, the Cards scored again. Gilley singled to left, then Drew Wilson lifted a long fly ball down the left-field line.
The wind pushed the ball back into fair territory, and outfielder Samuel Harris was unable to catch the ball at the fence, giving Wilson a double as Gilley went to third.
Alec Wilson singled to left as both runners scored for a 3-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, East’s Meredith singled, then Sheets pushed a bunt past the pitcher for a single.
Gilley hit a grounder to pitcher Austin Stevens, who went to second to force out Sheets and leave runners on the corners.
Drew Wilson hit a grounder to Kimbrell at short, who threw to second to try to force out Gilley.
The second baseman didn’t appear to touch second or apply a tag to Gilley, but the official signaled an out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Eagles strung together three hits and a walk, but still couldn’t score.
With one out, Caleb Mitchell beat out an infield single, but was picked off first by Meredith.
Jess Wilmoth singled to center, then Cole Fowler doubled to right-center. Wilmoth was held at third base.
Kaden Leonard worked a full count and then a walk to load the bases for Stephen Bruner, who hit a home run in Tuesday’s quarterfinal game. Bruner popped up to first for the third out.
East Surry also loaded the bases in the next at-bat.
Madison Chilton hit a one-out double to right-center, one of three hits on the night for the catcher.
After a strikeout, Cody Ashburn drew a walk. Weston Payne hit a soft flare that dropped in the infield for a single to load the bases. However, Stevens struck out Meredith to end the threat.
In the sixth inning, Stevens showed signs of fatigue, walking Sheets and Gilley with no outs.
A third walk to Drew Wilson loaded the bases for Alec Wilson, who already had two hits and three RBIs.
Wilson hit a ground ball to Jake Wilmoth at third, who threw home to Fowler for the force, then the catcher went to first for the double play.
Chilton singled up the middle past a diving Kimbrell to bring in Gilley and Drew Wilson for a 5-1 lead.
Stevens then hit Seth Brim with a pitch, prompting a pitching change as Fowler and Stevens swapped places.
Ashburn greeted Fowler with a double over the fielder’s outstretched glove in left to score Chilton’s courtesy runner for a 6-1 margin.
In the last at-bat, Central’s Leonard dropped a single into shallow left. After an out, Mosley singled to left to put two runners aboard.
After a strikeout, Kimbrell hit a grounder to short. Sheets threw to second, but Payne dropped the toss for an error as Mosley rounded third and scored.
Stevens hit a ground ball past a diving Ashburn at third to load the bases for Mitchell, but Meredith finally retired the Eagles.
“I’m proud of our team,” said Coach Hall. “Scott did a good job on the mound.”
“Other than a play or two, we did well on defense,” he said “We’re still swinging the bat well up and down the lineup.”
“You have to tip your hat to Central; they made some great plays in the field,” he said. “Stevens didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled. We were fortunate to get to him tonight.”
South Stokes will host the final Monday at 7 p.m.