The Blue Ridge Athletic Conference held its conference baseball tournament championship on Thursday afternoon at Central Wilkes Middle School and West Wilkes had hopes of making it back-to-back tournament championships against top-seeded Starmount.
The Knights took an early lead, but the Rams evened things up in the second and eventually pulled away for good, en route to a 6-1 win for the tournament championship.
Starmount connected on nine hits for the game, while limiting No. 3 seed West Wilkes to only two. The Knights also had five errors on the day, with three runs scoring on errors.
West Wilkes (11-4) wasted little time as Mason Billings stepped in on the first at-bat of the game and blasted a leadoff home run over the left-center field wall to put the Knights ahead 1-0.
Starmount responded in the bottom half of the first with a run of its own when Mason Moxley stepped in and lined a single to center field to bring in Zack Dezern from third to even the score at 1-all.
The Rams (13-3) took the lead in the bottom of the second. With one out and runners on the corners, A.J. Pardue hit a hard ground ball to third, but the Knights’ third baseman, Braden Woodie, was unable to scoop it up, allowing the ball to reach left field. Pardue reached on the error and Luke Kimmer scored from third, giving Starmount a 2-1 lead.
The Knights looked to even the score in the top half of the third as Carson Edmiston and Bo Nichols both drew one-out walks to put runners on first and second. West Wilkes was unable to take advantage of the baserunners as Woodie popped up to first and Branson Davis fell on strikes to end the inning.
An untimely error from West Wilkes in the bottom of the fourth allowed the Rams to add to their lead. With one out and runner on second, Brady Fann lined a single to right field.
The Knights’ Brady Penland fielded the ball and went to throw home for a play at the plate, but the throw got away from him and went out of play near the first base dugout to allow Pardue to score on the error and move Starmount ahead 3-1.
Starmount put the game out reach in the bottom of the sixth by pairing a couple hits to add three more runs. With runners on the corners and one out, Moxley hit a slow roller up the third base line for an infield single as Ryan Kimmer scored.
The Knights’ Woodie attempted a pickoff to first in the next at-bat, but the throw got away for an error allowing Fann to score. The Rams ended the scoring as Zach Armstrong hit a line drive to right field to score Moxley for the 6-1 lead.
Jackson Craver picked up the win on the mound for the Rams. Craver went the distance, allowing only one run on two hits with nine strikeouts.