EDITOR’S NOTE: Results from Tuesday night’s 2A state playoff opener between West Wilkes and Fred T. Foard will be published at journalpatriot.com and in the June 23 edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
The West Wilkes varsity baseball team clinched a fourth-straight league title with a 10-0 whitewashing of Alleghany on June 8.
“It was a great overall team win,” said West Coach Drew Ward. “It was great to clinch at home on youth night as well. I’m humbled by the opportunity to be the coach and be around this group of men. It was a great day to be a Blackhawk, that’s for sure.”
West’s Carson Edmiston and Evan Johnson combined on a two-hit shutout in the six-inning Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference contest in Millers Creek.
Edmiston helped his own cause with a game-high four RBIs and senior battery mate Braxton Church was 3-for-3 and a single shy of hitting for the cycle.
A sophomore right-hander, Edmiston improved to 5-0 after allowing a single hit in four innings while walking none and striking out eight. Johnson allowed a hit and whiffed one in two innings of relief.
“Carson threw the ball really well and the plan all along was to bring Evan in to make sure he got some work,” said Ward.
Church led off the West first with a triple to left and scored on an infield error. Johnson then singled in courtesy runner Avery Aiken for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Church’s two-out homer to left also scored Ben Huffman and made it 4-0. Edmiston then jacked a solo shot to center for a 5-0 West lead.
Huffman led off the West fourth by reaching on an error. Church then doubled to right, and Huffman and courtesy runner Sam Harbour both scored when Edmiston singled on a hard groundball to right.
Church had a chance to hit for the cycle—the ultra-rare feat of hitting a single, double, triple and home run in the same game—but was hit by a pitch in the fifth.
A.J. Roten ended the game with a one-out, two-run dinger to left in the sixth. Scoring ahead of him was Grant Ferguson, who was courtesy running for Trenton Mastin, who had just singled to left.
“Our bats really came alive early and stayed hot,” noted Ward. “We had three balls leave the yard and hit a lot of balls really hard.”
The Blackhawks improved to 13-0 in the MVAC while the Trojans faltered to 2-11.
Seniors Riley Ledford and Braxton Church achieved the rare feat of playing on three varsity teams that never lost a league title. The 2020 league slate was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ledford, who hasn’t pitched since straining his throwing arm on May 28, has signed with Queens University and catcher Church has signed with Appalachian State University.
East edges North
With a win at home on Thursday, North Wilkes could have secured the program’s first full winning season in over 20 years.
Tate Samples and his East Wilkes teammates were having none of that.
Samples threw a three-hit shutout and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh as the Cardinals took a 1-0 win over the Vikings in Hays.
“It was a great high school game that you hate to see someone lose,” said East’s coach, Justin Call. “Our teams were a lot alike and I guess that is how we ended up in a tie for third place (in the MVAC). I’m proud of our kids for finishing the season strong with a four game win streak—they never quit.”
The game’s only run was plated in the second inning. East’s Tyler Mash drew a one-out walk from North starter Dalton Miller.
Then Brennan Arnder singled sharply and directly at North right fielder Trent Sidden, who charged the ball but allowed it to get past him. Mash scored with ease all the way from first.
After five three-up, three-down innings, Samples faced his biggest threat in the final frame. With one out, the senior right-hander gave up Caleb Souther’s groundball single between first and second.
Reece Wilson was inserted to run for Souther, and he took second after Seth Hall drew a five-pitch walk from Samples. Anthony Welborn then hit a sharp liner right at East shortstop Hank Porter, who couldn’t make the play to load the bases.
Samples then induced Noah Royall’s short pop to center, which wasn’t deep enough for Wilson to tag up at third. Then Samples struck out Drew Winkler, who couldn’t catch up to a high fastball that ended the game.
“That’s what baseball is all about—two pitchers going at it head-to-head the entire game and teams trying to manufacture a run,” said North Coach Dwayne Berrier. “It’s a shame either team had to lose a game like that, but that’s baseball for you.”
Miller took the loss, dropping to 3-2 on the season. He allowed five hits and the single earned run while walking three and striking out nine. Welborn set the Cardinals down in order in the seventh.
“Miller has been our staple all season and was again tonight,” noted Berrier. “Samples did a heck of a job keeping our bats in check, and that was the difference.”
Samples, a Surry Community College signee, walked three and whiffed nine in evening his season mark at 2-2. “Tate pitched a great game and our defense played well behind him,” added Call.
Arnder and Ethan Cass each went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Cardinals, who finished the season at 7-7, the same mark as the Vikings and good for a third-place tie in the MVAC.
“We’re very proud of what these guys have done all season, though, and look forward to what they’ll do in the future,” added Berrier.
West rips Ashe
West Wilkes completed its second-straight 14-0 MVAC campaign with a 14-2 win over Ashe County in Millers Creek on Thursday.
The Blackhawks trailed 2-1 after two innings of play but then outscored the Huskies 12-0 over the next four frames to end the contest early.
Four pitchers shared mound duties for West, with senior Trenton Mastin (4-0) working three innings and picking up the win. Evan Johnson, Collin McGuire and Izaac McGuire each posted a single frame of scoreless relief.
Johnson and Carson Edmiston each drove in three runs for the Blackhawks. Edmiston crossed the plate four times in the game.
Mastin helped his own cause by going 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. Braxton Church went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. A.J. Roten drove in two runs with a double and sacrifice fly.
In the West third, Edmiston’s RBI double tied it at 2-2, and Roten’s SF to right gave the hosts the lead they would never relinquish.
Johnson’s two-run single to left was the highlight of West’s five-run fifth. Roten capped the scoring with a two-out, RBI double to left in the sixth.
Ashe finished the season at 4-10, tied with Wilkes Central for sixth in the MVAC.
Elks buck Eagles
Elkin took an 8-3 victory over visiting Wilkes Central on Thursday in the season finale for both clubs.
The Eagles took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first after senior Jonah Brooks delivered a two-run triple and senior Zach Mastin added an RBI single.
The hosts matched that output in the bottom of the frame and outscored the visitors 5-0 the rest of the way.
Elkin senior Adam Chu drove in a game-high three runs for the Buckin’ Elks, who finished 6-8 in the MVAC, good for fifth place. Reece Hagwood homered and doubled with two RBIs for the hosts.
Beau Callahan picked up the win, allowing four hits in three innings of scoreless work.
Central’s Jacob Demeny took the loss, allowing six hits and two earned runs in five innings while walking one and striking out eight. Mastin worked the final frame, giving up four hits and two earned runs while whiffing two.
The Eagles concluded with a 4-10 mark, which tied Ashe County for sixth in the MVAC.
East edges Elkin
East Wilkes put a damper on Elkin’s senior night by rallying to a 5-4 win over the Buckin’ Elks on June 8.
The Cardinals scored three runs in the seventh then held off the hosts, who plated a run in the bottom of the frame. Hank Porter notched the mound save for East.
Porter got the last two outs—including the final one by striking out Jaxon Godbey—in relief of winner Bryson Sidden, who allowed seven hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out six.
In the East seventh, Trenton Rhodes was hit by a pitch with one out, moved to second on a balk and scored on Tate Samples’ double. Brody Martin singled in Samples for the go-ahead run and Porter drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-3.
Martin drove in a team-high two runs for the Cardinals. Also delivering two hits were Porter, Sidden and Samples.
Landon Jackson went 3-for-4 at the plate for Elkin and Blain Adams had two RBIs. Ryan Nance took the loss pitching in relief of Brady Shugart.
The Cardinals powered up to 6-7 in the MVAC while the Buckin’ Elks backslid to 5-8.
Rams batter Vikes
Starmount built a big early lead, nearly lost it, then ended it with a flurry of sixth-inning runs in an 18-8 win over North Wilkes in Boonville on June 8.
The Rams led 9-1 before the Vikings rallied with three runs in the third and four in the sixth. In the third, Gracen Cline led off with a walk and later scored on an infield error. Caleb Souther then delivered a two-run, line-drive single to center.
In the Viking sixth, Drew Winkler led off with a walk and later scored on Dalton Miller’s groundball single to center. With two outs, Seth Hall drew a bases-loaded walk, then Anthony Welborn and Noah Royall singled in runs. Hall, the potential tying run, was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Starmount scored nine times in the bottom of the sixth off reliever Royall, capped by runs that scored on back-to-back infield errors by the Vikings with two outs.
Denver Stokes led the Rams with four RBIs and winning pitcher Sterlin Holbrook went 4-for-5 at the plate.
North’s Jesse Farrington (3-5) took the mound loss. Welborn, Royall and Hall all pitched in relief for the Vikings. Each of the four had a strikeout.
Starmount, which secured the MVAC’s 1A playoff berth two weeks ago, bettered to 11-2 while the Vikings regressed to 7-6.
Central trips Ashe
Wilkes Central edged Ashe County, 5-4, in Moravian Falls on June 8.
The Eagles took a 3-1 lead with two runs in the fourth, added another run in the sixth and then held off the Huskies in the seventh, during which the visitors scored twice.
Weston Inscore and Bryce Smithey each had two hits to pace the Eagles. Each drove in a run, as did Jonah Brooks, who doubled, and Zach Mastin, who tripled.
Brooks earned the win after allowing only one hit and a single unearned run in six innings. The senior walked two and struck out 10.
Mastin got credit for the save after giving up two hits and a pair of earned runs in the seventh. The senior whiffed two batters.
Canyon Pennington took the loss for the Huskies after working five innings. He allowed five hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out five.
The Eagles bettered to 4-9, the same mark as the Huskies.