MORAVIAN FALLS - Yadkin Valley stars powered Wilkes County Post 31 to an all-important 7-6 win Wednesday night over Concord in American Legion action.
Coming down to the home stretch of the regular season, the Patriots - who now sit at 4-11 - need all the wins they can muster to punch their ticket into the postseason.
Recent Elkin and Starmount graduates Hayden Snow, Alex Barr and Dillon Dobson helped Wilkes hang on for the one-run win after seeing Concord storm back from three runs down.
“I’m real proud of the way they played tonight,” head coach Terry Johnson said. “We pitched and hit the ball well.”
“The big thing was that we pitched really well,” he continued. ” Barr controlled the mound good for four or five innings and then they just started sticking the bat out there and getting some bleeding hits. Christian came in and got into a groove. And he’s been good closing games for us.”
For the second-straight game, Post 31 jumped out to an early lead, scoring twice in the first inning. Wilkes Central sluggers Stefan Susi and Christian Triplett roped run-scoring singles to put Wilkes up 2-0 early.
Dobson extended that lead with a RBI-groundout to second to score Snow in the bottom of the second.
On the mound, Barr breezed through three quick innings, racking up five strikeouts and limiting the Concord offense.
Concord finally broke through in the fourth on a RBI single to trim the lead to 3-1.
Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Snow made the defensive play of the ballgame when he gunned down a runner at the plate trying to score on a sac fly to end the threat.
Almost on cue, Snow turned around and manufactured a run in the next half-inning to extend the lead to 4-1. After reaching on a bloop single to center, the Elkin grad swiped second.
Will Pruitt then struck out, but raced to first after the Concord catcher dropped the ball. As he fired to first, Snow broke to third before scoring easily as the ball scooted away on a wild, gutsy play.
After cruising through four innings, Barr ran into trouble in the top of the fifth as Concord score four times to take a 5-4 lead.
But the Patriots responded in the next half-inning as Will Shepherd (West Wilkes) cranked a two-out solo shot over the left-center fence to knot the game at 5-5.
Post 31 took the lead for good in the sixth, powered by Snow and Dobson once again.
Snow led off the frame with a full-count walk and moved to second on a sac bunt. After baiting a pick-off throw from the catcher at second, Snow stole third. Jordan Carlton (Wilkes Central) then plated a run with a sac fly to right.
Dobson then hit a line-drive homer to right-center to give the Patriots a 7-5 advantage.
“I felt like we hit the ball extremely well; a lot better than we’ve been hitting,” Johnson said. “We got some pieces back too, so that helps. That home run that tied things up was huge for us. We could have said ‘oh, here we go again,’ but then we come back out and get two more in the next inning to take the lead.”
After Concord cut the lead to one at 7-6, Triplett slammed the door to preserve the victory.
Snow paced the offense with a 3-for-3 night, three stolen bases and three runs, while Dobson drove in two runs. Barr struck out five in 4.2 innings of work.
“Hayden Snow played great offensively and defensively for us,” Johnson explained. “He had a heck of a night. He was 3-for-3 and scored three times, and then he threw that kid out at home.
“And he was ready to pitch if I need him to,” he added, laughing.
Post 31 hits the road for the rest of the week, with a game at South Rowan Thursday before a double-header against Mooresville 66 on Saturday.
Johnson said he still believes the Patriots can make the postseason with wins down the stretch.
“We still have an opportunity still to win a couple games here late and make a run at the playoffs,” he said.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.