ELLENBORO, W.Va. — Thursday’s performance at Ritchie County won’t go down as one of Williamstown’s cleaner games of the season.
But as the Class A No. 3 Yellowjackets have discovered over the last two weeks, their offense is good enough to make up for mistakes in other areas.
Williamstown scored seven runs in the second inning to build a comfortable early lead, then held off the Rebels for a 10-6 win at Schofield & Butcher Field.
The victory was the ninth straight for the Yellowjackets. They’ve scored a total of 104 runs over that stretch, including at least nine in each game.
“Our guys think we’re going to score some runs and they feel they’re going to score enough to win the game,” WHS coach Terry Smith said.
Austyn Smith’s first-inning single drove in Brady Ankrom for the game’s first run to give Williamstown (13-2) the early lead.
That advantage grew during a game-changing second inning that saw the Yellowjackets score seven runs on seven hits. The third batter of the frame, Ryan Brown, belted a three-run home run to push the advantage out to 4-0.
The Yellowjackets followed Brown’s round-tripper with consecutive singles from Baylor Haught, Ankrom, Ethan Tawney and Leewood Molessa that led to four more runs that inning and a commanding 8-0 lead.
“If our guys are getting ahead in the counts, they’re pretty good hitters,” Smith said. “Everybody is, but I think we’ve done well hitting the ball hard in those spots. We’ve done a good job of that for the last week-and-a-half.”
The score stayed 8-0 until the bottom of the fourth when Ritchie County (9-6) broke through against WHS starting pitcher Cullen Cutright. The Rebels produced their first run on a bases loaded walk drawn by Garrett Owens, but still faced a seven-run deficit after they stranded the bases loaded.
It was the same story in the fifth as Avery Taylor worked a bases loaded walk for the Rebels’ second run, but they had the bags packed with one out and couldn’t cut into the Williamstown lead any further.
“Cutright did a really good job on the mound and you have to give him respect there,” Ritchie coach Danny Vanoy said. “We did get our opportunities. We left the bases loaded twice. It comes down to situational hitting again and we didn’t have that timely hitting to drive those runs in. We could have turned this into a lot better ball game.”
Haught’s sacrifice fly in the sixth allowed Brandon Burrell to score and the Yellowjackets to regain their seven-run lead.
After Cutright issued his sixth walk to Owens start the bottom of the sixth, the Yellowjackets replaced him on the mound with Haught. Although Owens was picked off at first, Williamstown began to hurt itself with self-inflicted mistakes soon after. Haught issued a walk and hit a batter, which combined with an infield single allowed the Rebels to load the bases again.
An error allowed Zach Knight to reach and Austin Dalton to score, cutting the Ritchie deficit to 9-3 and prolonging the inning. Taylor followed with a sharp single to left that scored Eric Darnold, and two errors on the same play enabled Elijah Schriver to also score.
Molessa drilled a solo home run to left with one out in the seventh for the Yellowjackets’ 10th run.
Two more Williamstown errors in the bottom of the seventh allowed Owens to score what proved to be the final run of the game.
Williamstown finished with 15 hits and avenged a 12-5 loss to the Rebels back on March 20.
“The kids hung in there and these guys beat us pretty handily the first time, so I think our kids feel good about this,” Smith said.
Ankrom had a team-high three hits, while Molessa, Haught, Trent Lynch and Trip Barkley registered two hits apiece.
Cutright pitched five innings and allowed two runs on two hits. He struck out six in the win.