PILOT MOUNTAIN — On Friday night, East Surry played the kind of baseball game that a modern analyst would call an undeserved loss.
The Cardinals pitched well, fielded well, and hit the ball hard in their 1-0 loss to visiting North Stokes, but the problem was that everything East Surry hit seemed to have eyes for the Vikings’ gloves. On a night where both coaches could justifiably be proud of their team’s effort, North Stokes won 1-0 on a two-out scratch single by Jake Chesnet in the top of the fourth inning that brought in Alex Sams with the game’s only run.
“It was just one of those games,” said East Surry coach Chad Freeman. “Kain (Kiser) threw well enough to win. All thoughout the game, we hit several balls hard and just hit it right at people. There’s not much you can do about that.”
The Cardinals (5-6, 1-1 Northwest 1A) had opportunities to get on the board. East Surry got runners into scoring position in the first, second, third, fourth and sixth innings, but could never get a hit in those situations. On a number of occasions, North Stokes fielders happened to be in the right place when a Cardinal hit a line drive or long fly ball that could have led to a run.
Freeman had little negative to say about East Surry’s performance, other than the outcome.
“We had some times where we didn’t take great approaches, but this was one of those games where you just seem like you’re snakebit from the beginning,” he said.
The game could perhaps be summed up by how it began and how it ended. The first two Cardinal batters of the night, John Marion and Tyler Smith, both drew walks off Viking pitcher Layton Helms. Then Blake Marion stepped up and crushed a line drive — right into the path of the North Stokes second baseman. Smith, who had been sure that Marion had a hit, was too far off the first-base bag and got doubled up. Then, on the final out of the night, John Marion appeared to have kept the Cardinals alive with a hot smash well over the head of Viking first baseman Sams. But Sams made a leaping catch and the game was over.
The winning run was set up by a leadoff single from Sams. Kain Kiser struck out the next batter and then got the second out on a grounder to short, but walked Elijah Childers on a 3-1 pitch to continue the inning. Chesnet followed with a single to give North Stokes a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, AJ Wilson took one for the team leading off and was sacrificed to second by Tyler Chilton, but each of the next two batters, Wyatt Guy and Corbin Kiser, were retired on hard-hit balls into the outfield that seemed to have eyes for the North Stokes outfielders.
Wilson singled with one out in the sixth and moved to second when Guy got plunked with two out, but Helms, who went the distance for the Vikings, escaped by catching Corbin Kiser looking at a strike three.
Helms struck out five in authoring his shutout win. Kain Kiser, a sophomore who didn’t even start the year on the East Surry varsity, scattered eight hits over six innings, in which he threw 95 pitches, struck out six, and walked only one. Guy entered the game for the seventh and was perfect, striking out one. Kiser was nearly as adroit as Helms when it came to pitching out of trouble, leaving North Stokes runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, as well as the fourth after the Vikings scored.