RONDA — Last week, the Elkin Buckin’ Elks traveled the short distance to Ronda to take on the East Wilkes Cardinals on the baseball diamond. East Wilkes was able to put down an impressive performance on the field and in the batter’s box to take a 4-0 win over Elkin. It was a vital conference game for East Wilkes, and the Cardinals took the win they needed to stay in second place in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
“I’m very pleased with them,” said East Wilkes head coach Bradley Hayes. “The last couple of games we’ve looked like a baseball team. We’ve made good plays in the field, we’ve hit the ball, scored runs when we needed them and our pitchers have thrown really well.”
Elkin was able to put two runners on base in the first inning, but the Elks could not bring the runs around the bases. East Wilkes put down the third out just as Elkin put a runner on third base.
East Wilkes started off its night in the batter’s box with hits and walks to load the bases. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they were unable to bring any runners home as Elkin was able to throw out a runner for the third out.
With the score 0-0 heading into the second inning, both teams put runners on base but once again they were unable to advance to home plate.
“We played pretty good defensively,” said Elkin assistant coach Steve Martin. “Our hitting wasn’t all that bad, we just couldn’t touch (Burcham). The first two innings they could have scored but didn’t because of our defensive plays. I think we did better than the last time we played them.”
In the third inning, things started to shift in East Wilkes’ direction. In the top of the inning, the Cardinals forced the Elks into a three-up three-down situation for a quick change.
Jared Wood was the first batter up in the bottom of the third inning, and on a full count he sent the ball into center field on a hard line drive hit. With a runner on first, Bryce Vestal stepped up and singled on the first pitch with a hit to right field. Brandon Church was next up for the Cardinals, and he loaded the bases with a hit to first base.
With no outs on the board and the bases loaded, Tate Weatherman knocked the ball into left field to score Wood and Vestal. East Wilkes wasn’t done scoring, as James Burcham was walked then Ben Longbottom singled to center field to once again load the bases. Trey Lambert put the ball into play as he found a single that scored Weatherman. East Wilkes had a 3-0 lead over Elkin after three complete innings.
The final East Wilkes run came in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Weatherman singled to left field to bring Vestal across the plate. From there, both teams would advance only one runner on base for the next three innings. East Wilkes was able to hang on in the final three innings to take a 4-0 MVAC win over Elkin.
On the mound, East Wilkes’ Burcham came up with a big seven innings for the Cardinals. Burcham allowed only three hits and had 10 strikeouts in the Cardinals’ win.
“This is the best we’ve seen him throw,” said Hayes on Burcham’s performance. “I’m proud of James and how he did tonight. He threw really well and our defense played well behind him.”
On the mound for Elkin, Tyler Wood had four strikeouts and allowed six hits.
“Tyler threw the ball well for us, he threw it well enough to keep us in the game,” said Martin.
Heading into the final weeks of the regular season, Elkin moves to 4-13 overall and 4-8 in the MVAC. East Wilkes now sits at 10-10 overall, and 8-4 in the MVAC.
“I’m excited with where we are at in the conference,” said Hayes. “To know that the practices are playing off, the hard work is paying off, and for the guys to be in the position they are in is exciting. They have a good opportunity in front of them. We haven’t had a season like this at East Wilkes in a long time, so for them to be the team to do it is exciting. They are excited about it and I just hope we can finish out strong.”