By David Rogers. April 30, 2019. BOONE, NC — A leadoff single and a steal of third base by shortstop Tanner Craft helped Watauga jump out to a first inning lead, but the baseball Pioneers could not overcome a slew of fielding miscues in falling 5-3 to Hickory in Round 1 of the Northwestern Conference tournament, Tuesday night at Pioneer Field.
COVER IMAGE: Watauga pitcher Andrew Dye, who last week signed a scholarship offer to play college baseball at Lenoir-Rhyne University next year, pitched five and two-thirds innings in Tuesday’s loss to Hickory. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Hickory senior pitcher William Stewart helped his cause in the sixth inning with a 2-run blast over the left center field fence to lead the Red Tornadoes’ 3-run rally that put the visitors ahead to stay.
By virtue of its second-place finish behind 3A rival Alexander Central in 3A/4A Northwestern Conference regular season play, Watauga is likely to receive a bid in the 3A-level of the North Carolina state tournament scheduled to begin next week. North Carolina High School Athletic Association will oversee the tournament seeding on May 6th and Round 1 will be at the higher seeds’ home fields beginning on May 7th.
South Caldwell is the lone 4A school in the Northwestern Conference. The Spartans finished first during the league’s regular season and is expected to receive a high seed in the 4A West bracket of the state tourney with an 18-4 overall regular season record (10-2 in conference).
Heading into the state tournament, Watauga is 10-14 overall and finishes 9-5 in Northwestern Conference play, including Tuesday’s loss to Hickory in Round 1 of the conference tournament.