Spectacular catch

WILKES NATIONAL FIRST BASEMAN Levi Rhoades makes a spectacular catch in foul territory in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s win.

JEFFERSON — Brylee Shore made the most out of a second chance on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Tar Heel League District 2 coach pitch baseball tournament.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh, Wilkes County National’s catcher hit a pop fly into foul territory. Had the ball been caught by Hickory’s first baseman, it would have ended the game and sent Wilkes County into the loser’s bracket.

Instead, Hickory’s first baseman couldn’t hang onto the ball and Shore tied the game on the very next pitch with an RBI single. Then Hayden Sampson scored on Levi Rhoades’ RBI single to defeat Hickory 13-12 in extra innings.

It was Wilkes County’s only lead of the game.

But the game was tied twice in regulation. Hickory came out of the gates strong, scoring seven runs in the first two innings. Hickory led 7-2 after an inning-and a-half on the strength of an Emily Bridges two-run double and a Gabe Gnida RBI single.

After Rhoades got one of the runs back in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, Wilkes National put up a four-spot in the third behind a Carsen Snider single. Wilkes would load the bases and Sampson tied the game 7-7 with a bases clearing double.

Hickory put together a two-out rally in the fourth and went back ahead with a bases clearing double of its own from Mylen Winters, who finished with five runs batted in.

A pair of singles, followed up with a fielder’s choice on each, left Wilkes National with two on and two outs in the bottom of the fourth.

Calvin Shore drove in Calloway Greene with a single before Snider — one of two Wilkes players (Sampson the other) with four hits in the game — tied the game 10-10 with a two-run double.

Wilkes National (1-0) had a chance to potentially win it in regulation after Hickory went three up and three down in the top of the sixth.

Braxton Brown led off the bottom half of the inning with a single to left and Greene connected on a one-out double to right field.

But during Greene’s at-bat, Hickory’s Colton Powell made a great throw to third baseman Garrison Strickland, who tagged out Brown for the second out of the inning. Brayden Nichols then grounded out to second to end the inning.

After Hickory plated two in the top of the seventh, highlighted by a sacrifice fly from Winters, Wilkes made it a 12-11 game with an RBI double from Sampson to set up the final sequence.

In addition to Snider and Sampson, Greene finished with three hits while six other players (Foster McClary, Masen Hendren, Shore, Rhoades, Brown and Shores) finished with two hits apiece.

Bridges was one of four Hickory players to finish with three hits.

Notes: Wilkes National followed up Tuesday’s game with a 12-1 win over Ashe County on Wednesday evening to punch its ticket to the Tar Heel League state tournament, which begins on July 25 in Smithfield. It’ll face Wilkes American tonight at with the winner advancing to the district championship. Due to rain postponing Thursday’s games, the finals are now set for Saturday at Noon.

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