Wilkes 12U all-stars

The Wilkes County 12U Tar Heel Leagues baseball all-stars are, front row, from left, Jeb Boykin, Camden Wayne, Fisher Mathis, Eli Shepard and Jake Lambert; back row, from left, Mason Cardwell, Aubrianna Nichols, Mikaylnn Kinder, Hunner Brown, Taylor Bumgarner and Cash Wilmoth. Zoey Woodruff wasn’t present for the photo.

The Wilkes County 12U baseball all-star team captured the Tar Heel Leagues District 2 championship after routing Yancey County, 18-4, on July 14 in Jefferson.

“This group really came together as a team this week,” said Ryan Nichols, the Wilkes coach. “Everyone played key roles in our run through the district. I am extremely proud of our performance and am looking forward to making a run in the state tournament” in Williamston on July 29-Aug. 1.

In the title game against Yancey, Taylor Bumgarner went the distance on the mound for Wilkes, giving up only three hits in five innings while walking one and striking out 10.

“Taylor pitched great,” noted Nichols. “He was dominating at times.”

Wilkes broke a 2-2 tie with six runs in the second inning. Bumgarner drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Eli Shepard’s RBI single. Later in the frame, a single by Camden Wayne and doubles by Mason Cardwell, Cash Wilmoth and Hunner Brown all drove in runs.

Wilkes iced it with eight runs in the fifth. Brown led off with a double and scored on Aubrianna Nichols’ single. Runs later scored after a single by Shephard, doubles by Wayne and Cardwell and a groundout by Wilmoth.

Brown then tripled in two runs, and Nichols’ second RBI single of the inning closed the scoring.

Brown led the victors by going 4-for-4 at the plate with three doubles and a triple. “Hunner hit the ball incredibly hard every at-bat,” added Nichols.

Rapping two hits apiece were Lambert, Nichols, Wayne, Cardwell and Shepard. “Our hitting really came around this game,” said Nichols. “We were able to string hits together and really break their spirits with consistently hitting the ball hard in the gaps. At one point I think we had four extra-base hits in the gap consecutively.”

In the Wilkes first, Mikaylnn Kinder tripled in Lambert and scored on Brown’s two-out double. Shepard and Lambert drove in runs in the third inning.

“It was just a great game all around,” Nichols said. “Yancey is a solid ball team and we dominated them in the championship. After playing them in the first game I thought we’d have to be able to beat them again to win it.”

The Wilkes all-stars will take on Knightdale in the opening round of the state tournament on July 29 in Williamston.

Yancey opener

Wilkes kicked off District 2 play on July 12 with a 6-3 win over Yancey in Jefferson.

Wilkes never trailed after scoring twice in the first inning. Jake Lambert and Mikaylnn Kinder were hit by pitches then executed a double steal. Lambert scored on a passed ball with one out and then Kinder stole home with two outs, breaking to the plate as the pitcher came set.

“The steal of home by KK in first inning really caught them off guard and set the tone for the game,” Nichols said. “She also pitched great and Taylor was able to come in and close the door on them.”

Kinder earned the win after allowing only one hit and a single unearned run in 4 2/3 innings. She walked two and struck out five. Bumgarner made the final four outs, retiring three on strikes, while giving up a single hit and walk.

In the Wilkes fourth, Kinder led off with a double and scored on Eli Shepard’s pinch-hit, two-out single.

Wilkes scored three insurance runs in the sixth, as Mason Cardwell and Cash Wilmoth led off with singles to left. Both scored on a dropped third strike to Aubrianna Nichols and subsequent throw to second. Nichols later scored on a passed ball, making it 6-1.

The winners managed only four hits but “just out-executed” Yancey, noted Nichols. “Their pitcher was really good and we put pressure on them running the bases.”

Whitewashing Watauga

Wilkes advanced to the finals with a 10-0 shutout of Watauga on July 13.

Mason Cardwell tossed a complete game no-hitter for Wilkes, walking two and striking out 10.

“Mason threw the ball extremely well,” noted Nichols. “Only a couple of balls were put in play on him and only a couple of runners reached base.”

After Mikaylnn Kinder’s deep sacrifice fly to center scored Jake Lambert in the first, Wilkes gained some breathing room by plating eight runs in the third.

Lambert’s single drove in Taylor Bumgarner and Fisher Mathis, who had both walked. Then Kinder and Camden Wayne delivered RBI doubles.

Cardwell, Hunner Brown and Mathis followed with RBI singles for a 9-0 Wilkes lead.

Hunner Brown singled in Cardwell to end the game early in the fourth.

“Our bats were a little slow to get started but once we came alive we really hit the ball hard,” said Nichols, noting that Cardwell, Cash Wilmoth and Brown each had two hits.

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