Williamstown rallies past Wirt County, 8-6

WILLIAMSTOWN – Landon Travis was as reliable as any set of jumper cables.

With the bases loaded and his ballclub trailing Wirt County, 6-1, the freshman ignited a seven-run fifth inning for Williamstown by driving home a pair of teammates with his base hit to left field.

Bret MacIver also doubled home two runs during a frame in which the Yellowjackets sent 11 batters to the plate.

Starting pitcher Josh Daniell made the rally stand up by retiring seven of the final eight batters he faced and Williamstown snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating the Tigers, 8-6. The sophomore right-hander allowed 10 hits and walked one while striking out three.

“The kids just hung in there,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith. “I don’t know if we were hanging our heads, but we were a little bit lethargic until the fifth inning.”

Taking the loss for Wirt County was senior Jacob Bell, who lasted 4 2/3 innings, and recorded eight strikeouts. Teammate Trenton Hardbarger walked two batters and did not give up a hit in his 1 1/3 innings of relief.

“Our Achilles heel has been that one bad inning,” Wirt County coach Jeff Smith. “I thought we hit the ball well and fielded well up until that fifth inning.

“I felt bad about Jacob Bell. He is such a quality kid and leader on this team. I was trying let him work his way out because a lot of it wasn’t his doing.”

Wirt County (9-10) broke through in its half of the first inning when Hagan Root doubled then scored when the Williamstown center fielder dropped a fly ball with two outs. The Tigers tacked on a second unearned run on a J.T. Stephens RBI single, which scored Wes Valentine.

In the home half of the first, Bell escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam by striking out two straight Yellowjackets.

Williamstown (12-8) cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third inning. Dakota Watson, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored, doubled with one out then crossed the plate when the next batter in the order, Eli Gray, produced an RBI single.

Wirt County went back to work with two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Stephens drew a lead-off walk then with one out stole second and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Dylan Pickrell followed with an RBI single.

Next up was Jacob Bell, who executed the hit-and-run to perfection. On the single, Pickrell continued around third base when the center fielder did not come up with the ball cleanly.

In the fifth, Root and Hardbarger led off with back-to-back singles. One out later and runners at first and third, Watson at shortstop nearly picked off a low liner which would have led to a double play. Instead, the ball spilled out of Watson’s diving attempt and the bases were loaded.

Jon Ferguson’s sacrifice fly followed by an RBI single from Pickrell gave Wirt County a 6-1 cushion.

Williamstown answered right back, and in a big way. After coach Jeff Smith intentionally walked Avery Goff for the second time in the game, Travis walked to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. What transpired resulted in seven runs on six hits.

“I was thinking I had to get a hit,” said Travis. “It felt good to get something going.”