RONDA — After a tough loss last week to Forbush, the East Wilkes Cardinals bounced back on Tuesday night with a 10-4 nonconference win over North Stokes. This marks the first win this season for the Cardinals, and the first varsity win for new head coach Brad Hayes.
“It’s always exciting to get your first win,” Hayes said. “I’m more pleased for the guys than I am for myself, but it was great to finally get that first win.”
The Cardinals got off to a great start as Grant Bare, Bryce Vestal and Alec Anderson all found home plate in the bottom of the first inning to give the Cardinals a 3-0 start. At the start of the second inning, second baseman Grant Bare made a terrific line drive catch to give the Cardinals their first out of the inning. Bare leapt into the air and snagged the ball before it could reach the outfield. The second inning called for a typically easy three up, three down for the Cards.
In the top of the third North Stokes started to make a comeback. North Stokes’ pitcher Austin Tucker advanced two runners to second and third before Layton Helms stepped up to the plate and struck the ball into right center field. It was a perfect hit that dropped in front of the East Wilkes right fielder and scored two runs for North Stokes. At the end of two and a half, North Stokes had put two on the board to make the game 3-2.
The bottom of the third inning was one for the books for the Cards. They started off the inning with a walk by Alec Anderson who then proceeded to steal second and third. With a runner on third, Parker Edwards hit a single to second which scored Anderson making the score 4-2. With a runner on first, right fielder Zachary Lovette stepped up to the plate and smashed the ball into right field and made his way to second base as Edwards advanced to third. Deven Crouch made the third hit of the inning to right center field, which scored Edwards and advanced Lovette to third base. With two outs and a runner on first and third, Crouch made a move to steal second. The pitcher for North Stokes threw the ball to the shortstop that ended up mishandling the ball and allowing Lovette to take advantage of an open opportunity to score. At the end of the third, the Cardinals were flying high as they had taken a 6-2 lead going into the fourth inning.
The fourth inning saw little action for either side, though the Cardinals did score two runs off of a double by Anderson, and a single by Andrew Elmore. Going into the fifth inning, Coach Hayes subbed in pitcher Jacob Pitchman for the final three innings. After a lackluster start to the sixth inning the Cardinals second baseman, Bare, started off a great double play by throwing the ball to Bryce at shortstop. Bryce made a terrific catch to get the first out at second base, and his quick thinking led him to throw the ball to first for a double play. It was what the Cardinals needed to get their motivation back up heading into the final inning.
The bottom of the sixth was all about the Cardinals stealing bases. Bryce Vestal started off the inning with a hit to left field that resulted in a double. Vestal didn’t seem satisfied with a double, because on the next pitch he stole third base to put himself within scoring position. Even that wasn’t good enough for Vestal, as he stole home after the North Stokes catcher made a mistake behind the plate. Vestal made the score 9-2 and the boys in the dugout were on their feet for the sophomore shortstop. Grant Bayer was the second Cardinal up to bat in the sixth inning, who took a few pointers from Vestal. Bayer drew a walk but then he also proceeded to steal second, third, and home which made the score 10-2.
North Stokes tried to make a comeback in the last inning, but it seemed to be too little too late. They scored two runs to make the score 10-4, but they couldn’t rally past a hyped-up East Wilkes team.
Hayes was pleased with the way his team played, but he noted there are still some amendments that need to be made. “We definitely have a lot of improvements to make before our next game,” Hayes said. “We have to be better at the plate, we need to be more selective with our pitches. Overall I think everyone executed really well tonight.”
East Wilkes’ next game will be at home on Friday night against Forbush. Varsity game time is set for 6:30 p.m.; JV will start at 4.
Kristian Russell may be reached at 336-258-4052.