Rebels flex muscle against ’Jackets

WILLIAMSTOWN – Persistence is just one of the many attributes associated with Ritchie County baseball.

Another is offensive production.

On Monday, the two joined forces as the Rebels rallied from a 6-1 deficit and defeated Williamstown, 17-7.

“The thing this year’s team gets from last year’s team is that they never give up,” Ritchie County coach Dan Vanoy said. “Our philosophy is that when somebody gets a lead on us, we just chip away at the deficit.

“I was starting to get worried when we fell behind five runs right off the bat.”

Ritchie County’s pitching combination of Austin Weekley and Alex Lipscomb didn’t exactly enjoy their brief outings as the Yellowjackets (8-3) jumped on the Rebel pitchers for five runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Eli Gray delivered the crucial blow with a three-run double, while Avery Goff singled home one run and Brye Mullenix hit a sacrifice fly.

Williamstown starting pitcher Landon Travis helped his own cause when he scored on an error to push the the Yellowjacket advantage back to five at 6-1 in the third inning.

The wheels began to fall off in the top of the fourth when Ritchie County erupted for eight runs. Only two runs were earned.

Josh DeBolt’s RBI single in the fifth inning curbed the momentum, but the Rebels answered with two in the sixth on D.J. Burgess’ RBI single and an Andrew Davis sacrifice fly to leave Williamstown trailing 11-7.

Ritchie County’s offense went into another gear during a six-run seventh. The outburst was highlighted by an inside-the-park, grand slam by Davis, who finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, three runs scored and five RBIs.

On the grand slam, Davis hit the ball to deep left field. In attempt to make the catch, Williamstown outfielder Joel Swisher collided with the fence and fell to his knees trying to regroup. By the time a Yellowjacket teammate gathered the ball, Davis had circled the bases. Swisher returned to his position for the next batter.

“Ritchie County hits the ball so well, and we knew we would have to score more than six runs,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. “Their pitching and their defense just held us down.”

Earning the pitching victory was Trevor Shepler, who scattered six hits over six innings of work. The senior walked just one while striking out four.

“We’re used to have having a six-man rotation, so you are always ready to pitch,” Shepler said. “I was ready. Usually, I am more of a three or four inning guy, but I was feeling good so I kept on going. “