West Stokes sophomore Austin Lilly drove in Eli Boles in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a scoreless tie and give the Wildcats a 1-0 win on Friday night.
“I thought both teams played really well. Both pitchers kept the hitters off balance and stayed down in the strike zone,” said Wests’ coach Kirk Goodson. “Austin (Lilly) is a sophomore and he’s playing well.”
In a pitcher’s duel, Boles started on the mound for the Wildcats and Andrew Tilley for South.
“Eli kept the ball down and his curve ball change up was getting across. He was moving it in and out and pitched well,” Goodson said.
In the bottom of the fourth inning West had a chance to score when Alex Helvey drew a walk. Nate Alderman singled with a hit to center and Helvey stole third.
Next at bat, Eli Boles sent a hard-grounder to shortstop Mason Dutton, who fired off to first baseman Jake Carter for the out. Lilly dropped a bunt, which Tilley fielded and threw to Carter for the out leaving Helvey stranded.
In the sixth, South was in position to take the lead.
Carter led off with a sharp single over second base. Senior Tanner Birkholz, who drove in a three-run home against Forbush in the Sauras season opener, hit a deep fly to left field earning a double and putting runners on second and third with no outs. West walked Tilley intentionally to load the bases. Alex Owens connected with the ball, but it was scooped up by Wests’ centerfielder. Next, Cason Stanley drilled a hit to third baseman Alex Manley who caught it and tagged Carter, who’d stepped off the bag for the third out.
“I know we didn’t win but I’m proud of them. They swung the bat well, played good defense. You have to tip your hat because West just got the hit in that one inning. They’re a good well-coached team,” said Sauras coach Shane Worth.
Days earlier, South defeated the Wildcats at their place 7-5.
“If we could have hit five or six inches one way or the other it would have been a different story,” Worth said. “I think Andrew (Tilley) did well. He was a bulldog on the mound. He commanded his own all night and got ahead of hitters, kept them off balance and kept us in the ballgame.”
On Friday, West Stokes travels to Surry Central and South hosts Carver.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.