EliBare safe (WC)-J.B.Young (HIC)

WILKES COUNTY’S Eli Bare slides safely into home, ahead of the attempted tag from Hickory catcher J.B. Young in the third inning of Saturday’s district tournament game at Cub Creek Park.

Momentum can be a funny thing when it comes to sports.

Both the Wilkes County and Hickory Midget League all-stars learned that in different ways during Hickory’s 6-5 victory on Saturday afternoon in the winners bracket semifinals of the District 2 tournament at Cub Creek Park.

Wilkes County had built up a nice lead after two-and a-half innings of play and had Hickory, which had beaten Ashe County 15-0 earlier on Saturday, on the ropes.

But lightning was spotted in the area and suspended the game for two hours in the top of the third inning.

Prior to the delay, Wilkes County had built up a 5-0 lead, having already scored three runs in the inning.

Trey Hutchison started the scoring for Wilkes County in the inning with an RBI double, and Mason Cardwell and Slater Meade added RBI singles.

The game was delayed with the bases loaded after Meade’s base hit. At the time of the delay, Hickory starting pitcher Breyden Caldwell had walked the previous two hitters but rebounded to strike out a pair of batters and avoid further damage.

Caldwell, who picked up the win, did not allow a hit and walked just one batter (Meade in the sixth) in the final three innings. Caldwell worked around seven walks and five hits with eight strikeouts.

Hickory (2-0) put runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth after a one-out single from Styles Robinson and a Zack Rose walk. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch during Kane Cochrane’s at-bat.

Cochrane, Hickory’s No. 7 hitter, trimmed Wilkes’ lead to 5-1 with an RBI groundout. Hickory had a chance to cut into the lead more after Ben Rinaldo drew a walk but Wilkes’ Mason Cardwell worked around a full count and closed the door with a strikeout of Harper Hendrix.

Cardwell ran into trouble again in the bottom of the fifth after walking Harris Eimer and Caldwell and J.B. Young reaching on a one-out single.

After Eimer was forced out at home on a fielder’s choice from Robinson, Zack Rose made it 5-2 with an RBI single. Then Cochrane, who finished 2-for-3, tied the game with a bases clearing triple.

The hit ended the pitching outing for Cardwell, who allowed seven runs, six walks and struck out six in 4 ²⁄³ innings.

Meade came on to relieve Cardwell, and Rinaldo put Hickory ahead 6-5 with an RBI single. After allowing a walk to Hendrix, Meade settled down and induced a fielder’s choice from Sam Bridges.

Earlier in the game, Wilkes County (0-1) utilized a little small ball in the top of the second as it put up a pair of runs without a single base hit.

First, Hunner Brown scored when Praxton Moore stole second base during Will Rhoades’ at-bat. After drawing a walk, Moore was tagged out a home on a double steal attempt.

But an errant throw allowed Eli Bare to slide safely into home, just ahead of the attempted tag from Young to make it a 2-0 Wilkes County lead. 

Bare went 2-for-3 to lead Wilkes County, which returned to the field on Monday evening in an elimination game against Alleghany.

Ashe County advanced to the winner’s bracket final, which takes place today at 5:30 against Mitchell. The winner will advance to the championship game, which is scheduled for Thursday evening.

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