PILOT MOUNTAIN — Last week under rainy conditions, the East Wilkes Cardinals traveled to Pilot Mountain to take on the top-ranked East Surry Cardinals in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A baseball playoffs.
In the first inning, it looked as though East Wilkes would be able to pull off a win as the Cardinals scored two runs. As the game progressed, East Surry took back the momentum and ultimately took a 6-2 win to end East Wilkes’ playoff run.
“We played OK, it wasn’t our best game of the year,” said East Wilkes head coach Bradley Hayes. “They came out and gave a really good baseball team a bit of a fight. I’m proud of the guys.”
East Wilkes was able to start off the game by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Sean Sidden stepped up to bat and on the first pitch he hit a hard ground ball to center field for a single. Bryce Vestal was able to some up with a single and advance Sidden to second base with a ground ball to third base.
With no outs on the board and runners in scoring position, Caeden Howell stepped to the plate and was able to lay down an impressive bunt. East Surry made several fielding errors which saw Sidden score, Vestal advance to third and Howell stand up at second.
The next East Wilkes run was scored as Vestal stole home off of a wild East Surry pitch. At the end of the half inning, East Wilkes had put down two runs to take a 2-0 lead over East Surry.
As the rain started to pick up and the temperatures started dropping, East Surry was able to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning. East Surry loaded the bases then scored the first run off of a walk, and the tying run was scored as the runner stole home.
In the bottom of the third inning with the score tied 2-2, East Wilkes put down a double play that kept East Surry from scoring. Austin Absher was able to tag third base for the second out, then threw the ball to Tate Weatherman at first for the third out.
“We had a big double play, which kept up the momentum in our dugout,” said Hayes. “The first inning we put the ball in play a couple of times with the short stuff. They threw it around which helped us a little bit. We put pressure on them early.”
The next few innings saw East Surry capitalize on pitching errors by East Wilkes. East Surry took the lead in the second inning by scoring one run, then the Cardinals scored one run in the fifth and two runs in the sixth.
East Surry’s fielding and pitching presence was tough for East Wilkes to deal with, as the Cardinals were unable to find a hit in the final five innings. East Surry was able to take the 6-2 win to end East Wilkes 2018 season in the third round.
“I’m very proud, I couldn’t be prouder,” said Hayes on his feelings about the season. “In retrospect this one hurts, but when we look back at the season and think about how we played, this is nothing to hang our heads about.”
East Wilkes ends its season with an overall record of 12-13 and a conference record of 9-5.