WILLIAMSTOWN -Williamstown couldn't make it look easy.
Tuesday afternoon, the Yellowjackets built a 10-1 cushion against Parkersburg Catholic only to see it nearly evaporate as the Yellowjacket pitching staff kept its coach on pins and needles.
The Crusaders closed to within 13-11 and loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh inning before Cary Casto flew out to a backpedaling right fielder for the final out.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
Williamstown relief pitcher Dakota Watson delivers a pitch in a game with Parkersburg Catholic Tuesday in Williamstown. The Yellowjackets recorded their first win of the season by defeating the previously unbeaten Crusaders, 13-11.
All 10 Williamstown players who made a plate appearance delivered at least one hit of the 17 collected by the Yellowjackets. Kody Rhyne led the hit parade by going 3-for-4 with a triple and four runs batted in. Teammate Blake Eddy also accounted for three hits, including a double and two RBIs.
"It's always tough when you play Parkersburg Catholic," Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. "But we won, so we'll take it."
Parkersburg Catholic produced 13 hits, but only three through four scoreless innings against Rhyne, who lasted 4.2 innings. One of the few early mistakes Rhyne made took place on the second pitch of the game as leadoff hitter Austin Luther homered off the scoreboard.
"Austin has been ready to play this year," Parkersburg Catholic coach Tom Harvey said. "He has so much confidence. It's a huge difference. He believes in himself now.
"If he keeps hitting the way he has through the first five games, he may not be leading off. Of course, last year Mitch Davis did a fine job hitting leadoff and led us in home runs. And there is no reason Austin can't be as good a hitter as he was."
In the bottom half of the first inning, Williamstown's bats came alive with five runs on five hits. The Yellowjackets tacked on another five-spot in the third inning for a 10-1 advantage.
The game appeared destined for a mercy rule as Rhyne retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth inning. The Crusaders, however, kept the inning alive as the next seven batters reached safely, including consecutive doubles from Payton Sturm, Casto and Mike Hinton to cut the deficit to 10-7.
"Kody did a good job - he just got a little tired," Smith said. "Parkersburg Catholic was just hitting ropes. I don't know how you defense line drives.
"It would have been nice to shut the door, but we didn't."
Dakota Watson entered in relief and put out the fire by retiring the first batter he faced. Despite allowing a pair of base hits and walking one batter in the sixth inning, Watson escaped without allowing a single run.
After scoring once in the fifth, Williamstown padded the lead to with two more runs in the sixth behind Rhyne's two-run single. With three outs remaining, the Yellowjackets led 13-7.
Watson managed to record two outs, but a pair of walks and a double by Nick Roedersheimer meant the end of his relief appearance. The third Yellowjacket pitcher of the afternoon, Landon Travis, walked three batters and allowed a single as Parkersburg Catholic crept to within 13-11.
Coach Smith was prepared to replace Travis, but the sophomore got the fly ball for the third out.
"We took a long time to get started," Harvey said. "We just buried ourselves in too deep of a hole. We tried to get out of it."
The Crusaders, who are scoring 12.4 runs per game, suffered their first loss and slipped to 4-1.
"Sometimes your pitching is not going to be there so you have to value the baseball and play defense," Harvey said.