DAVISVILLE – Parkersburg Catholic is careful not to feel too comfortable about taking a 1-0 lead in a best-of-three series.
In their previous two sectionals, PCHS coach Tom Harvey can remember the team trailing in the series eventually captured the championship.
Monday afternoon at Marshall Field, Jake Ullman and Payton Sturm each delivered three hits and drove in three runs as the Crusaders pounced on Williamstown for a 12-2 victory in five innings. Game 2 turns to Williamstown’s Legion Field for a 5 p.m. first pitch today.
“We don’t have anything accomplished – the last two years we lost the first game then won it,” PCHS coach Tom Harvey said. “Williamstown is certainly capable of coming back.”
Mike Hinton protected the PCHS pitching staff by throwing a complete game despite falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning. The junior wasn’t exactly dazzling in the final four innings, but he was effective after scattering three hits and shutting out the Yellowjackets the rest of the way.
“For a long time now, Mike has been on the verge of being that kind of pitcher that he showed in those last four innings,” Harvey said.
Williamstown gave the impression that it would be a long afternoon for Hinton when Landon Travis singled home Josh Stephens and Dakota Watson for the 2-0 Yellowjacket lead.
“It was just a matter of getting used to the game again -I hadn’t pitched in a couple of games,” Hinton said. “What happened there in the first inning happens all the time.”
The PCHS offense gave Hinton plenty of support after scoring once in the first inning then erupting for six runs in the second inning and taking the lead for good at 7-2. Ullman’s two-run double, along with Sturm RBI single highlighted the second-inning outburst. Not helping matters for Williamstown was a dropped pop fly in shallow left field which plated two runs.
“I feel really really comfortable at the plate,” Ullman said. “My dad and I put in the work after practice, so this is like second nature to me.”
Ullman, who batted in the No. 3 hole for most of the regular season, scored four times out of the leadoff spot.
“Coach moves me around from first to third in the lineup, so I just go with the flow,” Ullman said. “In the leadoff position, I’m trying to do a job and get on base. Sometimes with that you can still hit with power.”
Williamstown starting pitcher Nick Bailes struggled with his control, walking four and hitting a batter, in one-plus innings of work. Yellowjacket reliever Kody Rhyne took the loss after getting roughed up for 10 runs on 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings. PCHS, meanwhile, continued to score runs. In a two-run third inning, Ullman doubled home Nick Roedersheimer, who scored all the way from first base. Ullman advanced to third base on one of three Williamstown errors then scored on an Austin Luther sacrifice fly.
“We got off to a slow start then we got to swinging the bats, put the ball in play and hit it hard,” Harvey said.
Needing three runs to put the mercy rule into effect, PCHS turned the trick in the fifth. Kyle Bronski singled home Ullman, and with runners standing on first and third Sturm stepped into the batter’s box. On the first pitch he saw, Sturm lashed a double into the right-field corner and both runners scored for the 12-2 win.
“We had a couple of opportunities, but still didn’t get much done,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said.
“We didn’t come through, and they certainly did. They hit the ball, but they’ve hit the ball all year.”