WILLIAMSTOWN - Parkersburg Catholic made it look easy, and in some regards it was as the Crusaders clinched the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 championship by sweeping Williamstown in two games in the best-of-three series.
The margin of victory in both games was identical. On Tuesday at Legion Field, Jake Boice delivered four hits and drove in four runs, while left-hander Payton Sturm scattered four hits and struck out five in a 13-3 victory.
Winners of three straight sectional titles, PCHS improves to 18-12 and plays at Gilmer County in a Region IV semifinal next Tuesday (May 27).
KERRY PATRICK Special to The Times
Parkersburg Catholic lefty Payton Sturm delivers a pitch homeward to a Williamstown batter during sectional championship action Tuesday. The Crusaders won 13-3.
"We limited our mistakes and Payton grinded, and we let him finish it," PCHS coach Tom Harvey said. "Monday was the first time in 15 years since I've been here that we 10-runned them. You never expect that.
"The sky is the limit for this team. We've been close the past two years."
Williamstown, which led 2-1 before the Crusaders took the lead for good by scoring four runs in the top of the fourth inning, ends the campaign at 10-17. Three Yellowjacket pitchers were tagged for a combined 13 hits and walked 13 batters.
Class A, Region IV, Section 1
At Williamstown's Legion Field
Parkersburg Catholic 13, Williamstown 3
PCHS 010 407 1 - 13 13 1
Williamstown 002 010 0 - 3 4 2
WP: Payton Sturm 7IP 4H 3R 6BB 5SO
LP: Dakota Watson 3.2IP 6H 5R 4BB 3SO
Jake Tracewell 1.1IP 3H 4R 5BB 2SO
Josh Daniell 2IP 4H 4R 4BB 1SO
Parkersburg Catholic: Jake Ullman 2-3, 2 runs, 2B; Austin Luther 1-4, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Jake Boice 4-6, 2B, 4 RBIs; Payton Sturm 3-4, RBI, SB, run; Evan Dexter 4 BBs, run; Nick Roedersheimer 3-5, RBI, 3 runs
Williamstown: Dakota Watson 3-3, 2 RBIs, HR, run, SB
Records: Parkersburg Catholic 18-12, Williamstown 10-17
Next game: Class A, Region IV semifinal - Parkersburg Catholic vs. Gilmer County, 5 p.m. Tuesday (May 27)
"You have to play perfect against Parkersburg Catholic - their top four or five guys can really hit," Williamstown coach Terry Smith said.
PCHS must have figured fate was on its side from the get-go. Lead-off hitter Jake Ullman doubled home Nick Roedersheimer to put the Crusaders in front 1-0 in the second inning. With two outs in the home half of the second inning, PCHS first baseman Cary Casto used his height to his advantage and snagged a pop fly by reaching over the fence in foul territory.
Williamstown finally broke through with two outs in the third inning when Dakota Watson blasted an offering from Sturm over the left field fence for a two-run homer. From that point, Sturm only gave up two more hits -both singles to Watson.
"That's part of baseball - you throw it down the plate and sometimes they hit it," Sturm said. "You just have to keep battling and throwing strikes and let my defense make plays. And they did a good job."
The Yellowjackets nearly took their 2-1 advantage into their half of the fourth inning, but an infield error with two outs in the Crusader fourth opened the floodgates for four runs. Ullman singled home one run and following a walk to Austin Luther that loaded the bases, Boice found the right-center field gap for a three-run double.
As Williamstown's starting pitcher, Watson lasted 3 2-3 innings and allowed five runs on six hits.
"Dakota hadn't pitched a whole lot this year," Smith said. "He hurt his shoulder about a month ago, so we were hoping for three innings. I thought he pitched pretty good."
Williamstown cut the deficit to 5-3 in the fifth before the PCHS offense clicked for a seven-run sixth inning. A total of 12 players walked to the plate and it marked the second time in the game PCHS batted around the order.
Highlighting the outburst were Casto and Luther walking with the bases loaded; Andrew Cinalli hitting a sacrifice fly; Roedersheimer's RBI base hit; and another run-scoring single from both Boice and Payton.
"We had a bunch of big situations with two outs, and those don't come often so when they do you have to take advantage," Boice said. "That was my mindset going into every at bat. I think that was our team's mindset.
"Our offense has been hitting all season, so I was more surprised our defense came out finally."
Luther at second base nearly made a second web gem in the fourth inning. With one out and a runner at first base, Williamstown's Brye Mullenix laced a shot headed for center field but Luther dove to his right and speared the liner only to drop it as he fell to the ground. Fortunately, Ullman at shortstop arrived on the scene in time to pick up the loose ball and step on second base for the force out.
"Defense was phenomenal," Harvey said.