WILLIAMSTOWN – It might seem a difficult fate to find oneself upstaged after hitting two home runs with five RBIs, but that is the situation Williamstown shortstop Landon Travis found himself in this evening after pitcher Reece Westfall hurled a complete game no-hit gem Tuesday to shut out Charleston Catholic, 8-0.
Westfall walked only one batter as only five Irish hitters reached base, all of whom he left stranded. Using excellent control on a variety of breaking pitches, he consistently got ahead in the count and kept the Kanawha county batters off balance, striking out four while inducing numerous pop-ups and ground ball outs.
“I talked to (catcher) Josh Stephens before the game; I threw against them last year, and changing speeds worked well,” the ‘Jackets hurler explained.
“Landon had good hits, and that gave me confidence to buckle down and throw strikes.
“Josh calls the pitches, and I usually don’t shake him off. We’ve played together since we were eight, and we know each others’ games pretty well.”
Both coaches praised the senior right-hander’s excellence.
“With high school pitchers, if they can throw the curve for strikes, they’ll be effective,” ‘Jackets mentor Terry Smith commented.
“Reece has been pitching for four years; I keep telling him it’s time to be a leader, and time to be a senior, and he’s doing it right now. He’s 2-0.”
“Westfall pitched extremely well,” said Irish coach Bill Mehle.
“He kept us off balance really well.”
The Yellowjackets accounted for all the scoring they needed in the second inning.
A trio of errors by the otherwise reliable Irish defense allowed a pair of unearned runs to cross the main dish on RBI singles by first baseman Zac Wilhide and centerfielder Bryce Haer.
Then Travis stepped to the plate and launched the first pitch he saw from starter John Hufford to straightaway left field.
The shot easily cleared the fence for a three-run blast.
The senior shortstop struck again in the fourth. After Cullen Cutright singled and stole second and Haer struck out, Travis reached down to pull a low Hufford curve ball out to left.
“The first was off a fastball – a little high – and the second was a curve,” said Travis of his bombs.
“Both I thought I popped up when they came off the bat.
“I switched to a new bat today, and I had good batting practice with it, so I stuck with it.”
Westfall, meanwhile, had settled in from the start. He did not run up a three-ball count until falling behind leadoff hitter Nick Russo with two outs in the third, and he battled back to strike out the centerfielder.
‘Jackets’ centerfielder Haer saved the day with two outs in the fourth. After the Irish had placed runners on first and second via an error and Westfall’s only walk of the contest, catcher Dominic Martin lifted a fly ball into shallow right.
Right fielder Cutright lost the ball in the sun, but Haer dramatically raced in front of him to extend and make the catch.
Third baseman Dominic Marsico looked to have broken up the gem with a high, opposite field drive which looked as if it might go out in the top of the fifth, but this time Cutright sprinted to his left to haul the ball in nicely on the warning track.
Williamstown scratched across another run in the bottom of the frame via three infield singles and a hit batsman, and Westfall stepped to the mound for the chance to complete his masterpiece.
Martin led off with a sharp grounder to second which Mason Atkins, who had previously had a difficult day in the field, handled cleanly and confidently for one. Right fielder Alex Belcher then hit a long foul which Cutright did well to reach and grab for the second out.
It was then up to Marisco, who rapped another hard grounder. Travis, at short, momentarily bobbled the ball, but recovered to make a strong throw which beat Marisco’s despairing headfirst dive.
“In high school ball, seniors have to be leaders,” Smith summed up.
“Reece and Landon did that for us today.”
The Yellowjackets, now 2-0, return to action when they host Wirt County on Thursday.