CHARLESTON — The hurdle separating Williamstown baseball from the Class A state semifinals and the championship game will exist for at least another year.
Friday morning at Appalachian Power Park marked the fourth time in school history the Williamstown baseball program advanced to the semifinal round of the state tournament. And for the fourth time, the Yellowjackets’ pursuit of playing for a state title were denied as Charleston Catholic defeated the Yellowjackets, 7-4.
“We just got out-executed, plain and simple,” Williamstown coach Levi Maxwell said after his ballclub closed out the campaign at 27-7 following a an appearance in the semifinal round for the second straight year.
“We didn’t play well at all. The bats were cold and they had a great pitcher on the mound. He shut us down.”
The Irish (17-19), winners in 11 of their last 17 games, gave the start to Jonah DiCocco. Having never seen the freshman pitcher in two regular season meetings, Williamstown managed just one extra base hit and seven hits overall.
DiCocco, who threw a complete game and also went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, retired the final five batters he faced, including three on strikes.
The right-hander finished with nine strikeouts while walking two.
“In single-A baseball, you play freshmen and we play freshmen a lot,” Charleston Catholic coach Will Bobinger said. “Jonah has a lot of experience in very tight games. He has always wanted the ball in the biggest games of the year. We threw him against Independence, which is another great hitting team, because we wanted to get him ready for this game.
“He is not afraid to go after batters and throw pitches for strikes. He was extremely effective today.”
Williamstown starting pitcher Chase Barkley, one of two seniors on the Yellowjacket roster, and DiCocco pitched shutout ball for the first two innings. Barkley gave up a two-out double to Gage Tawney in the top of the third inning and should have been out of the inning unscathed. DiCocco stepped to the plate and grounded harmlessly to second base but the fielder muffed the play for the first of two Yellowjacket errors on the afternoon and the inning continued with runners at the corners.
Michael Ferrell then singled home one run and Gannon Morris added an RBI double for two unearned runs in the inning.
In the home half of the third inning, DiCocco worked his way out of a two-out triple by Maxwell Molessa. However, the Irish defense let down in the fourth as Williamstown’s Parker Schramm and Harbor Haught both singled and later scored on two bunts which resulted in errors.
Barkley appeared to be in control after striking out four in a row leading into the Charleston Catholic fifth inning. The Irish bats then woke up as five players contributed a base hit. Michael Ferrell, Morris and Hayden Carriger each delivered an RBI single as part of a five-run outburst.
“Offensively, we don’t do that too often,” Bobinger said.
Barkley gave Williamstown a scoreless sixth inning, which would be his last after throwing 104 pitches.
Williamstown’s offense made a push in the bottom of the sixth inning. Schramm’s lead-off single was followed by Luke Ankrom receiving a walk. Harbor Haught laid down a bunt, but an errant throw to third base for a possible force out allowed two runs to score. Haught was erased when he tried to score on a wild pitch which bounced directly back to the catcher, who then tossed to the pitcher covering home plate.
That marked the Yellowjackets’ last runner in scoring position.
Schramm entered in relief in the seventh inning. After a lead-off walk, the freshman struck out the next three hitters.
With the Irish three outs from clinching a berth in the state championship game, DiCocco needed just one pitch to induce a ground out from Leewood Molessa for the first out. Maxwell Molessa and Ty Ott both fell behind in the count 1-2 and eventually struck out.
“You have to execute at this level,” coach Maxwell said. “For some reason, we haven’t executed in these big game situations. It’s disappointing to come down here to get beat by a team you have beat before.
“This was a tough one for me. Last year, we were happy to be here. This year, it was an expectation to be here. We just didn’t play very well today. We will get back to work, hit the ground running and come back next year.”
As for the takeaways, Williamstown ran the table as the top-ranked team in Class A throughout the regular season. Barkley and Leewood Molessa are the only two graduating seniors. Word is, members of the incoming freshman class have legitimate talent.
“We played all season — winning a bunch of games is great, but once you get to the state tournament those games don’t matter anymore,” coach Maxwell said. “I’m proud of our guys who made it to this point. We just need to get better executing all across the board — hitting, catching, pitching. Everything.”
Contact Kerry Patrick at [email protected]
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