The Surry County Mudcats Senior Babe Ruth (ages 16-18) baseball team made county history July 19-23.
The Mudcats, managed by Corey Gammons, captured the Southeast Regional championship and earned the first-ever Babe Ruth baseball World Series berth for a team from Surry County.
“It was an amazing week,” Gammons said on Friday. “The guys played some amazing defense added to some great pitching and timely hitting throughout all five days – despite playing in temperatures of 95 or higher each day!”
The Mudcats went 5-1 in the Southeast Regional tournament, outscoring their opponents, 36-15. The Surry County squad’s lone loss was a 2-1, 10-inning heartbreaker to Manassas, Va. In the championship, Surry County beat 2016 Southeast Regional Champion Union County, N.C., 7-4. Union County beat Manassas, 3-2, in the semifinals to reach the championship game.
The Mudcats turned six double plays in the tournament, five by the duo of Ethan Danley and Clay Taylor.
“Our kids were locked in all week,” Gammons said. “As a manager, I could not have asked for a better performance or group of players. It has been a joy being around them. Now, we are hoping to get everything in line for a trip to Washington State for the World Series!”
The 2017 Senior Babe Ruth (ages 16-18) World Series will begin Aug. 5 at Johnson-O’Brien Stadium at Ephrata High School in Ephrata, Wash. The championship is set for Aug. 12.
The Columbia Basin Youth Baseball organization is hosting its second consecutive Senior Babe Ruth World Series. Mobile, Ala., the 2016 Southwest Regional champion, won the World Series in Ephrata last summer.
Surry County plans to travel to the tournament on Aug. 3. At the moment, the team is trying to raise $6,000 to help cover travel and other expenses for the team to the World Series.
“We are so excited to represent Surry County as the first baseball team to make a Babe Ruth World Series appearance,” Gammons said. “Our team has players from East Surry, Mount Airy, North Surry and Surry Central on its roster. We are proud and excited to call Surry County home and can’t wait to bring the World Series trophy home!”
Team members are Ethan Danley, Tyler Whitaker, Clay Taylor, Mason Wood, Chandler Johnson, Jed Kidd, Tyler Myers, Michael Roberts, Corben Kiser, Alex Eubanks, Carter Graham, Bailey Johnson, Garrett Durham, Chandler Daughenbaugh, Mackenzie Cooke, Noah Wilmoth, Tanner Dutton and Cooper Nester.
In the regional, that group opened play with a 10-2 win against Longwood. Myers got the pitching win with Graham finishing off the last two innings on only 11 pitches. The Mudcats had the first of their six double plays in the game and Daughenbaugh threw out a runner trying to steal. At the plate, Whitaker led the assault, going 3-for-4 with a double. Durham, Chandler, Taylor and Danley had two hits each.
Surry County’s second game turned out to be its only loss – a 2-1, 10-inning thriller to the 2017 Virginia State champions from Manassas. Cooke pitched seven shutout innings for the Mudcats and Dutton finished on the mound. The two teams combined for just six hits. The winning run came when a Manassas runner stole third and the ball got away from the infielder. The throw to the plate was just high, allowing the runner to score.
“That was a great game,” Gammons said. “Chandler Johnson had a great throw in the fifth inning that nailed a runner at second. Cooke was lights out on the mound. It was a tough game to lose.”
In their pool play finale, Surry County beat Newton-Conover, N.C., 13-7. Kidd, Dutton and Graham combined for the pitching win. Defensively, Taylor and Danley each had an unassisted double play in the game. Kidd led the hitters, by going a perfect 2-for-2. Roberts, Johnson, Wood, Whitaker, Danley and Cooke all had two hits each.
On the final day of the tournament, Surry County played two games —- beating Stafford County, Va., 5-0, in the semifinals and Union County, 7-4, in the championship.
Against Stafford County, Cooke pitched six scoreless innings and Graham picked up a five-pitch save. The game ended on a double play. The big offensive play of the game for the Mudcats was a 400-foot, two-run homerun by Roberts in the third inning that easily cleared the stadium scoreboard.
“It was just a blast,” Gammons said. “He got all of that pitch!”
Cooke belted a triple for Surry County and Taylor went 2-for-4.
The championship came down to two North Carolina teams – Surry County and Union County. Union won the 2016 Southeast Regional championship, but Surry had beaten the squad from just east of Charlotte for the 2016 North Carolina title. This time, Surry won the regional championship, 7-4.
Myers started on the mound for the Mudcats, giving up four runs in five innings. Cooke and Graham finished in relief.
Taylor got an unassisted double play. Roberts led the Mudcats hitters, going 2-for-3.
“It was just a great week for the team,” Gammons said. “They represented Surry County well both on and off the field. I can’t wait to see them play in the World Series!”
The team is now seeking donors to help with the costs of the World Series trip. To help with the team’s expenses, donors can call Tracie Whitaker at 336-970-9242, Gammons at 336-374-9105, or mail a check to The Mudcats and send to Gammons at 1744 Holly Springs Road, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.