WILLIAMSTOWN - Bad hand and all, Williamstown's Eli Gray hit a three-run homer and finished the game with five runs batted in as the Yellowjackets defeated Belpre, 21-7, Tuesday in five innings.
Gray injured his throwing hand last week and felt some discomfort trying to grip the bat but gave his coach the green light that he was ready for action against the Golden Eagles.
"I fell on a set of steps and just hurt my hand," said Gray, who flew out to left field in an attempt to homer in the same inning which resulted in 14 Williamstown batters making a plate appearance and nine runs scoring in the bottom of the third inning.
Williamstown catcher Josh DeBolt turns to see a sliding Tavian Miller of Belpre Tuesday after taking a relay throw from first baseman Avery Goff in the first inning.
"On that home run, I didn't really feel the pain," Gray continued. "The ball went off the sweet spot of the bat then went over the fence. I thought it was a pop up at first, but it kept on carrying."
All told, Williamstown pounded out 18 hits, including seven for extra base hits. Out of the No. 5 hole in the Yellowjacket batting order, Jake Tracewell went 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and one RBI. Teammate Josh DeBolt contributed two doubles and drove in three runs, while Dakota Watson was credited with three RBIs.
Seven Williamstown hitters enjoyed multi-hit games.
"You don't know what kind of pitching you are going to see," Williamstown coach Terry Smith said after his ballclub improved to 10-5.
The momentum sided with Belpre at the outset as the Golden Eagles scored four runs on four hits in the top of the first inning. Alex Perry led off the game with a walk, stole second then scored on Tavian Miller's one-out double.
Cleanup hitter Ryan Epperly followed with a single to right field, but Miller was gunned down at the plate when right fielder Landon Travis hit the cutoff and first baseman Avery Goff threw a strike to catcher Josh DeBolt, who had the plate blocked for the out.
Williamstown was nearly out of the woods, but Dakota McDaniel hit a bases-loaded double with two outs that drove in three runs for a Belpre 4-0 advantage.
The Yellowjacket offense was the recipient of a pair of one-out walks in the bottom of the first inning and both runners eventually scored, first on a balk and then on Jake Tracewell's two-out double.
Belpre tacked on a run in its half of the second inning before Williamstown answered with six runs on four hits in the bottom half of the frame. Josh DeBolt delivered the big blow with an opposite field two-run, two-out double.
A nine-run outburst in the third inning put Williamstown in front 17-5.
Watson eventually settled down as the starter and lasted three innings before giving way to Reece Westfall and Josh Daniell for an inning apiece. The two sophomores and freshman enabled coach Smith to save his rotation for two crucial games this week - starting with a road test today at Ritchie County, followed by Thursday's games at Gilmer County.
"Ritchie and Gilmer are two of the best teams around ... I figured Belpre is non-conference, so we went with our young guys a little bit," Smith said. "Our pitchers were throwing strikes, and Belpre just hit the ball."
Despite falling to 2-9, Belpre received two hits apiece from Epperly, Hayden Plummer and McDaniel. Byers and Epperly accounted for two of the Golden Eagles' four doubles.