When asked about his expectations for his senior season, Mount Airy senior Reece McDuffie said the following at his college signing in November 2021:
“I don’t know the last time we had a home playoff game, so that’s a huge goal. I think it’s very possible with the team we have.”
McDuffie’s words came to fruition nearly six months later as Mount Airy hosted Queen’s Grant High School on May 10. The Granite Bears put on a show against the Stallions, winning 11-1 in five innings to advance to the second round of the 1A State Playoffs.
Mount Airy’s most recent home playoff game – prior to Tuesday – was nearly a decade ago on May 14, 2013. The 2013 Bears dropped that game 4-2 to visiting Albemarle.
The 2022 Granite Bears kept their historic season alive by shutting the Stallions down. After scoring one run on two hits in the top of the first inning, Mount Airy held Queen’s Grant (9-8) to one hit for the remainder of the game.
Rylan Venable and Ashton Gwyn split time on the mound for the Bears (18-8). The duo allowed just three hits, walked one player and struck out 10 batters.
Mount Airy finished with 12 total hits, including a team-high four hits from Logan Dowell. Venable and Reece Deaton each had two hits, while Kamden Hawks, Cameryn Wilson, Landon Cox and Brison George each had one.
Hawks and George each hit doubles, and Venable had a 2-run home run.
Ian Gallimore scored Mount Airy’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. The sophomore was walked, moved to third on a Dowell single then scored on a ground out hit by Hawks.
Wilson and John Penn added runs No. 2 and No. 3 in the next inning. Wilson led the inning with a single, and Penn was walked. An error on a George hit brought Wilson in, then Penn scored on a hit from Venable.
Dowell crossed the plate for run No. 4 in the bottom of the third thanks a bomb hit to the center field fence by Hawks.
After slowly building a lead through three innings, Mount Airy exploded for six runs in the fourth. George, who was the first of 12 batters for the Bears in the inning, led with a double, then Venable smashed a homer to increase Mount Airy’s lead to 6-1.
Gallimore was walked to prompt a pitching change for the visitors. The substitution didn’t pay off, though, as Gallimore stole second then scored on a Dowell single.
Dowell advanced to third on a wild pitch, then Hawks was walked to put runners on the corners. Cash Hemric, running for Hawks, took a lead off of first and Queen’s Grant attempted to pick him off. An errant throw sent Hemric to second and scored Dowell to increase the lead again to 8-1.
Deaton scored Hemric with an RBI single, then Deaton scored on a hit from Landon Cox to make it 10-1.
The Stallions last chance to put runs up ended after three batters after Gwyn struck out three-in-a-row in the top of the fifth. Dowell had his fourth single in the bottom of the inning and stole his way around the bases before scoring on a Deaton hit.
No. 8 Mount Airy advances to the Round of 32 and will host No. 9 Bethany on May 13. Bethany (18-9) finished second in the Northwest Piedmont 1A Conference and defeated No. 24 Mitchell 8-3 in the opening round.
Queen’s Grant – 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, X, X = 1
Mount Airy – 1, 2, 1, 6, 1, X, X = 11