Williamstown baseball looking for more

GLENVILLE — Williamstown baseball never stopped to think about its place in the Little Kanawha Conference standings as the league season progressed through the 11 games. Terry Smith’s crew spent the brain power and energy trying to get to the league’s Night of Champions. Some help from the Ritchie County Rebels against the St. Marys’ Blue Devils and the fact the Yellowjackets owned a tiebreaker over those Blue Devils sent them to the LKC’s biggest evening at Sue Morris Complex in Glenville.

Playing in the consolation game for the fourth year in a row wouldn’t do though. The ‘Jackets brought with them pitching depth and a strong lineup to their semifinal game against the Roane County Raiders. Now was the time to punch through to the title game.

Williamstown’s offense delivered a bare-knuckle wallop to the Raiders in the form of a seven-run outburst in the fourth inning of a 19-9 six-inning mercy-rule win Thursday evening.

Leewood Molessa’s grand slam and five more first-inning runs off Rebel ace Tatem McCloy, followed by a masterful pitching performance from Cullen Cutright, gave the ‘Jackets the league crown, 11-1, the following evening. The rough game probably wasn’t the kind of thank you Ritchie County head coach Dan Vanoy and his bunch had in mind.

“It’s been fun,” said Smith of the season so far. “The guys have worked hard and sometimes we have been inconsistent but they are high school kids and are like that. Some days are good and some days are bad.

“But one thing you can count on is the guys will work hard.”

The players tireless effort paid off once again.

Williamstown earned the second seed in an event that has been about as kind to the Yellowjackets as the LKC Tournament the past few seasons — Class A’s Region IV, Section 1 Tournament.

A coveted spot in the best-of-three regional championship goes to the winner of the six-team grouping.

An opportunity out of reach for the Yellowjackets early in the bracket two years ago.

Parkersburg Catholic shocked a strong team, before Ravenswood’s Chase and Hayden Swain proved impossible to get out in the a 6-5 sectional championshp game victory for the Red Devils last season.

This year’s sectional title likely runs through the top-seeded Wahama White Falcons in Mason. Still, there is reason for cautious optimism. Baseball can often be a fickle sport where highs and lows consistently mix together.

Face the right pitcher on the right day and it may not matter how good he is throwing the baseball if the bats are hot.

Williamstown bats faired much better against McCloy the second time they saw him on the mound. The 12-2 mercy-rule win from Ritchie County early in the season now stands far in the rearview mirror.

Tom Harvey’s Crusaders, the ‘Jackets opening round sectional game at 5 p.m. today, did not mercy-rule the Yellowjackets but did display they can win games two different ways. Ace Pat Copen hurled a complete-game, 13-strikeout gem in a 2-1 PC win back on March 12. Then, Catholic bats pounded out 11 runs in a 3-run win four days later.

“We just want to see how good we can do,” said Smith. “Things lined up the way we wanted but it is baseball.”

And with baseball comes pitching, where the ‘Jackets are strong with four guys to take the mound. Smith hopes to use just Molessa and Cutright so his defense can be at full strength with Trent Lynch and Ryan Brown at their spots on the diamond. However, Lynch located well against Wahama regardless of a 19-3 outcome in the regular season.

“Hopefully these guys can throw strikes and get people out,” said Smith.

If history holds true and Williamstown comes out of the section there exists a good possibility they are headed to the state tournament. The last four Section 1 winners went on to represent the region in the state tournament in Charleston.

“It says we have some pretty good baseball,” said Smith when asked about the feat. “You should be good.”