MORAVIAN FALLS - Missed opportunities at the plate and in the field came back to haunt Wilkes County Post 31 Monday night against Rowan.
The Patriots left 13 men on base and committed five errors, falling 6-0 in American Legion action at Wilkes Central High School.
“Big, big missed opportunities,” head coach Terry Johnson explained. “We had the bases loaded twice with the opportunity to score runs and the bats just didn’t come through. It’s not like we didn’t have chances. We seemed to be focus, it’s just one of the things you have to live with.
“We just have to start hitting the ball and stop making dumb errors. Tonight we just made some really dumb errors. We just didn’t play defense tonight,” he added.
Wilkes put runners on base in seven of the first nine innings, including nine in scoring position, but failed to capitalize and bring any runs home.
The Patriots only managed six hits on the night - three by junior college first baseman Aaron Sparks - as Post 31 thwarted numerous chances to score and stay in the game.
On the mound, Wilkes Central’s Jordan Carlton picked up the hard-luck loss despite a solid outing. Carlton lasted six innings, allowing only four hits and four runs (two earned) as the defense behind him made several costly miscues.
In the third, Rowan loaded the bases with two outs. Ashton Fleming brought home the first run with a hard-hit ball to third that was mishandled by Christian Triplett. After a walk, Triplett once again bobbled a grounder that brought home another run as Rowan took a 3-0 lead.
Another run came around in the sixth on another Patriot error. With the bases loaded, an infield pop up landed between three fielders, allowing a run to score to give Rowan a 4-0 advantage.
After failing to capitalize with the bases loaded in the home-half of the sixth, Post 31 saw Rowan tack on two more insurance runs in the seventh - one on a throwing error by relief pitcher Hayden Snow (Elkin).
The Patriots had one more chance to break through in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. But a Tyler Stotler pop up ended the scoring threat.
Wilkes went down in order in the eighth and ninth for their third-straight loss after a brief two-game win streak.
Snow and Alex Barr (Starmount) went a combined 0-for-4 with one walk at the dish, while Snow threw three innings on the mound. The former Elk allowed one earned run on two hits with two strikeouts. Starmount’s Dillon Dobson and Tanner Mathis did not see action.
Post 31 now sits at 5-12 on the year with one game remaining - tonight against last-place South Rowan in Moravian Falls - as the Patriots cling to desperate playoff hopes.
Johnson said the team is treating tonight’s season-finale as a playoff game.
“Hopefully we’ll be focused and ready to go. We’re going to go after it like there is a playoff spot of jeopardy,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can win and some other guys will lose so we can sneak into the playoffs. We’re looking at it one at a time.
“For us, we have to win the ballgame and just hope for someone to drop some games,” he added.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.