ZEBULON — Jacob Shepherd's walk-off single in the
bottom of the ninth inning scored Logan Hallock with the winning run
as West Wilkes edged Dixon 7-6 at Five County Stadium on Saturday
night in the third and final game of the North Carolina High School
Athletic Association state 1-A baseball championship series.
The dramatic finish gave the Blackhawks the NCHSAA 1-A state
championship. West Wilkes had evened the series in a 14-10 slugfest
earlier on Saturday, as the Blackhawks banged out 15 hits, four each
by Tyler Stotler and Grafton Church. The first game of the series on
Friday night was also a wild one, as Dixon's Rookie Davis pitched a no-
hitter but walked 13 as the Bulldogs took an 8-3 decision.
Scott Gambill of West was selected as the championship Most
Valuable Player. He was one for three with an RBI in the decisive
game, but went three for nine for the series with four RBI and he also
walked four times.
West Wilkes had opened up a 6-1 lead before the Bulldogs
came storming back to tie the game. The Blackhawks scored four in the
first, with the big blow a bases-loaded double by Ethan Absher that
cleared the bases. West made it 6-1 in the third on a single by
Shepherd, a walk and a couple of infield outs.
Dixon countered with a run-scoring single in the
fifth by Rodman Young, who was three for three on the night, scoring
T.J. Johnson, who had doubled. Then the Bulldogs knotted the score
with four in the sixth, the key blow a two-run single by Young. Matt
Rouse and Caleb Lanier also had RBI hits in the frame.
The Blackhawks appeared poised to win it when they loaded the
bases in the bottom of the seventh with no outs, but Davis retired
the next three hitters to force extra innings with the score 6-6.
Hallock earned the win in relief while Davis got
the loss. Stotler, Shepherd and Absher each had two hits for West
while Matt Rouse added a pair of hits for Dixon.
Both teams were making appearances in the NCHSAA finals
after long absences. Dixon hadn't been to the championships since 1977
and West Wilkes last played for a baseball state crown in 1987. West
finished its season at 23-12 while Dixon wound up 25-7;