CHERRYVILLE — Burke County raised some eyebrows when it swept higher-seeded Maiden in the first round of the Area IV American Legion playoffs.

The question was: Could Post 21 continue to play well in the second round as an even heavier underdog?

As least for one game, Burke (9-12) answered in the affirmative by competing on near even terms with Cherryville Friday at Fraley Field before dropping a 2-0 decision in Game 1 of the best-of-five set.

Cherryville (26-6) scored the only run it would need on a second-inning home run by Jared Emory and added an insurance run in the fifth on Colton Stroupe’s infield single.

On the mound, starting pitcher Robbie Cowie and reliever Brent Walls combined on a five-hit shutout with six strikeouts and three walks.

Yet, Burke County had runners on base in five of the seven innings and forced Post 100 to battle out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth inning.

“It’s game one and a win is a win,” Cherryville coach Bobby Reynolds said. “We hit enough to win and that is all we did. But we will take it and try to go up there and hit a little better tomorrow.”

Reynolds lifted Cowie in the fifth with one out after the right-hander’s pitch count climbed into the 80s. Walls came in and got two force outs to end a mild threat by Burke.

In the top of the sixth, Walls had to put down another potential rally, this time in a bases-loaded situation when the Cherryville infield muffed a potential double play ball.

Walls got out of the jam by forcing Kell Smith and Johnny Shoemaker to hit harmless infield pop-ups to retire the side.

Cowie went four and one-third innings while allowing three hits, walking three and striking out four. Walls gave up two hits in two and two-third innings to get the save.

Stroupe, Wade Walker and Dayne Homesley had two hits each for Cherryville.

Emory’s home run came off Post 21 starting and losing pitcher Nate Watkins, and his shot cleared the fence just inside the left field foul pole.

On a night when Post 100 struggled on offense and Cowie labored on the mound, Walls was the literal savior.

“He’s not overpowering, but he’s a three-pitch guy,” Reynolds said of Walls. “When we blundered that force play with one of our miscues, he had to pitch out of a tough situation. But he is the kind of guy who has a chance to miss a couple barrels, and he did and got a couple pop-ups.”

Game 2 is Saturday at Shoey Field in Morganton, with game three scheduled for Sunday at Fraley Field.