North Stokes allowed five runs on four passed balls and an error in the third inning against East Surry on Friday during the Northwest 1A conference tournament championship game and fell 9-2 to the regular season champions.
“We made a couple of mistakes and the flood gates opened,” said Viking coach Stephen Sauer. “They are the kind of team that you can’t make mistakes. Kain Kaiser pitched very well. We had some opportunities early, but we missed signs and did not get bunts down. We really needed our A game to beat them.”
Winston-Salem State signee Layton Helms came out strong with four strikeouts over the first two innings. East broke through in the third inning when Trevor Hauser reached on a base hit and moved to second on a passed ball. Leadoff hitter, John Marion singled plating Hauser. Marion made it to third on two more passed balls and AJ Wilson walked with both runners scoring on an error by the Viking’s shortstop. Cameron Whitaker put the nail in the coffin with a two run homer and the Cardinals held a 5-0 advantage after three innings played.
North Stokes continued to struggle in the first five innings and 12 players struck out as the Cards tallied four more runs in the fifth stanza off of three hits, two walks, an error and four more passed balls for the 9-0 lead.
The Vikings made their way into the scoring column in the top of the seventh inning. Koby Clark and Isaiah East reached on base hits and then scored on errors by the shortstop and third baseman.
East led the Vikings with two hits and a run scored, while Helms and Clark added a hit each. Garrett Willoughby was 2-for-3 for the Cardinals with a stolen base and a run.
After the game, Helms, East and Jake Craddock were named to the all-tournament team.
The Vikings end their regular season 16-9 and hope to duplicate last year’s lengthy run in the state playoffs. East Surry finished 21-2 and received the overall number one seed in the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs. North, a 12 seed, will host Highland School of Technology on Wednesday, while the Cardinals await the winner of the Swain County and Chatham Charter contest.
“If we are going to make another run, we need to get our bats going again,” Sauer said. “We have been pitching well, but have not given any run support to our guys.”
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.