Four-and a-half innings into Thursday night’s championship game, Starmount stayed within striking distance of upsetting South Stokes in the Northwest 1A Conference baseball tournament.
But the top-seeded Sauras put any aspirations of a championship upset to bed with one big inning en route to an 8-0 win at Elkin High School.
Thursday’s game quickly turned into a pitcher’s dual between a pair of underclassmen — Starmount’s Preston Williams and South Stokes’ Maddox Nelson.
Nelson earned the win as the sophomore struck out six in a four-hit shutout.
The No. 3 Rams threatened in the top of the fourth after Luke Kimmer, who drew a lead-off walk, moved into scoring position on a Mason Moxley single. Moxley went 2-for-3 at the plate.
The two advanced 90 feet on a Jackson Craver groundout but were left stranded as Nelson got Ryan Kimmer to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
Williams held his own as he held the top-seeded Sauras to just two runs through the first four innings.
But the sophomore ran into trouble in the bottom of fifth after allowing a Nolan Coe walk and a single to Nelson with one out.
Jordan Buck would deliver a two-run triple to right field to double the advantage and the hit ended Williams’ night on the bump.
Bam Royall relieved Williams and recorded the second out of the inning after Blake Hughes RBI groundout.
But South Stokes (14-6) mounted a two-out rally behind an Ethan Nelson single and a Connor Young being hit by a pitch. Jesse Carrick made it 6-0 with an RBI single and Carson White drove in two more with a single. White and Carrick each finished with two hits apiece.
Ethan Nelson and Buck also finished with two hits for the Sauras, who earned the No. 1 seed and hosted South Davidson in the opening round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs. The postseason began Tuesday with the winners advancing to the second round on Friday.
Starmount, who received a hit apiece from Nohr Issa and Zack Armstrong, earned the No. 14 seed and hosted No. 19 Mountain Island Charter in the first round. The
winner will face either No. 3 Cherryville or No. 30 Piedmont Community in the second round
Prior to Thursday’s title game, the Rams upended Mount Airy, 2-0, in the semifinals last Wednesday night.
Darren Shore and Issa combined to toss a five-hit shutout and defeat the Granite Bears (17-8) for the first time this spring.
The junior Shore scattered five hits and walked four with five strikeouts in six innings of work to earn the win. Issa pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
The Rams utilized a little small ball to score their first run after singles from Ryan Kimmer and Armstrong.
After Kimmer advanced to third on an error and a Shore groundout, Issa put down a sacrifice bunt to plate Kimmer.
Xavier Martin — one of four Starmount players to register a hit — made it 2-0 with an RBI triple. Moxley finished 2-for-2 for the Rams’ other hits.
Rams best Cardinals in opening round, Granite Bears hold off Elkin
Starmount defeated East Wilkes, 12-8, in Boonville last Monday for their third win over the Cardinals in the last six days.
The two teams battled back and forth through the first four innings. Number-six East Wilkes battled back from a 4-1 deficit with six runs in the top of the third behind RBI singles from Hank Porter, Briggs Gentry, Jace Samples and Kole Lambert to take a 7-4 lead.
Lambert led the Cardinals’ charge with three hits and Porter finished with two hits.
But the Rams responded with five runs in the bottom half of the inning on the strength of a two-run single from Martin. Shore added an RBI single and Brady Fann drove in a pair with a single to turn the deficit into a 9-8 lead.
Starmount added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Martin, Armstrong and Craver finished with two hits apiece.
Ryan Kimmer took the win as he scattered nine hits and eight runs (three earned) with six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He would be relieved by Williams after Kimmer reached the pitch count-limit.
Mason Lyon took the loss despite just two of the nine runs surrendered being earned in three innings of work. The senior scattered seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
In Mount Airy, the No. 2 Granite Bears jumped out to a 5-0 advantage after three innings.
But the No. 7 Buckin’ Elks finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth behind an RBI sacrifice fly from Logan Norman.
Blain Adams cut the deficit to three with an RBI double.
Maecyn Brooks finished 2-for-2 to lead Elkin, which concluded its season at 6-15. In addition to Adams and Brooks, Norman, Ryan Nance, Ethan Ford and Matthew Beshears finished with a hit apiece.
Brooks suffered the loss on the mound.
Thanks to its 10-13 record, East Wilkes qualified for the state playoffs as the No. 27 seed and traveled to No. 6 Cornerstone Charter. The winner faces either No. 11 Bishop McGuinness or No. 22 North Carolina Leadership Academy.