WILLIAMSTOWN - Not to be confused with a recent movie release, the chase in the Little Kanawha Conference's North Division was thrown by the curve after Williamstown leap-frogged Parkersburg Catholic in the standings with Monday's 6-4 victory against the Crusaders.
A pair of Williamstown pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts to ensure the Yellowjackets' 8-4 record against LKC North opponents.
Now the Yellowjackets must play the waiting game to find out their fate in terms of playing either in an LKC placement game or the league tournament.
Williamstown's Avery Goff attempts to grab a wide throw to first as Parkersburg Catholic's Austin Luther is safe Monday during their game in Williamstown. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Williamstown's Bret MacIver watches Parkersburg Catholic's Mitch Davis deliver a pitch to the plate Monday during their game in Williamstown. The Yellow Jackets scored a 6-4 win over the Crusaders. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
One thing is for sure, they put a crimp in the Crusaders' plans after Catholic slipped to 7-4 in the division. PC concludes the regular season portion of its league schedule today at home against Ritchie County.
Williamstown improves to 18-9 overall, while PCHS drops to 14-10.
"Their pitchers did a good job, but we did a terrible job at the plate," PCHS coach Tom Harvey said. "We had a terrible approach. We take a 4-3 lead and give them three unearned runs -that's the story of the ballgame. They wanted it more than we did.
"(LKC) is out the window. In the sectional, we probably have to play on the first Monday. We controlled our own destiny and we didn't seize it."
Williamstown starting pitcher Dakota Watson struck out six and lasted four innings, and appeared headed for the victory leading 3-2. However, PCHS responded with a pair of unearned runs on back-to-back opposite field singles by Cary Casto and Andrew Cinalli in the top of the fifth inning against Yellowjacket reliever Eli Gray.
Following Cinalli's RBI single, Gray became virtually unhittable and retired eight of the final nine batters he faced. During that span, he struck out six.
While Gray was closing the door in the late innings, Williamstown's offense took the lead for good at 6-4 with three runs in bottom half of the fifth. Jake Tracewell started the ball rolling with a lead-off double and scored when Watson single's on the very next at bat zipped into center field.
Joel Swisher's infield single and a PCHS error loaded the bases for Brye Mullenix, who was credited with the second infield single of the frame. Both Watson and Swisher crossed the plate on the play for a 6-4 Yellowjacket advantage.
In the sixth inning, Mitch Davis drew a one-out walk but was stranded on third base as Gray set down one Crusader on strikes and another on an infield fly. Earlier in the game, Davis doubled twice and scored twice. He also pitched the first five innings and finished with eight strikeouts.
"It seems every time Mitch Davis pitches, he shuts us down because he is a heck of a pitcher," Gray said. "But we got him tonight."
As for the top of the seventh inning, it didn't get any better for PCHS as all three batters Gray faced left the bat on their shoulder for a called third strike.
"It feels good on the mound - I'm glad to be back out there," said Gray, who resumed his pitching duties this past weekend against Wahama after being sidelined with a sore hand.
Also contributing RBIs for Williamstown were Landon Travis on a double with runners at the corner in the first inning and Tracewell on a sacrifice fly as the very next batter.
"Our kids were focused," Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. "They are tired of getting beat by Parkersburg Catholic. It's hard to get runs against a guy who strikes everybody out and throws as good as Mitch Davis does."