WELLSTON — It took a full year for Wellston to get its revenge on Piketon.
Last season, the Golden Rockets were knocked out of the Division III sectional semifinals after a shutout loss to the Redstreaks. Wellston’s hopes in the 2021 postseason were shut down early, while Piketon made a run to the district semifinals before finally tapping out.
The 2022 regular season didn’t offer much opportunity for relief. The two programs only faced each other once before the playoffs, and the result was the same as before. Wellston was handed a shutout loss by Piketon in late March.
But the Golden Rockets finally got a taste of revenge. One year to the day after losing to Piketon in the 2021 sectional semifinals, Wellston returned the favor. The Golden Rockets clocked the Redstreaks 3-2 at Veterans Field on Thursday evening for a sectional finals win.
The Golden Rockets worked quickly to build the lead. Will Briggs brought home the first run of the game after hitting a single to score Josh Jackson, who’d previously reached base on an error. Zach Wilbur singled later in the inning to score Logan Martin. The second inning brought another run home after Jackson hit a sacrifice fly to score Nik Hill.
From there, Piketon pitcher Roger Woodruff dialed it in. The senior had more strikeouts than hits allowed over his final frames, winning that comparison to the tune of six K’s and four hits.
Wellston’s early scoring wouldn’t have meant much had Martin’s pitching not been up to par. Martin took on the daunting task of starting against Piketon, but he never wavered on Thursday. The sophomore pitched a complete game, racking up 12 strikeouts and allowing just two runs on four hits.
Those two runs scored on Martin were relegated to just one inning, however. Piketon only broke its offensive silence in the sixth inning after a triple by Tra Swayne brought home Johnny Burton. Chase Carson doubled to score Swayne soon after, and Wellston’s lead was cut down to a run.
The Redstreaks were quiet for all innings except the sixth, where three of its four hits came. Swayne finished the day with two hits, a RBI, and a run.
But that was the closest Piketon would get all night. Martin regained his composure on the mound, and he closed out the sixth inning with a strikeout.
That strikeout all but set Wellston’s win in stone. Piketon had nothing left in the tank, and Wellston walked away Thursday as a sectional champion.
Before Thursday, doubts might have been raised about Wellston’s chances in the sectional finals. Piketon had been a crick in the neck since last season, and it had beaten Wellston earlier in the year.
But that was over a month ago. Wellston had a month to grow and become a more stable team than it had been when the season began.
Sure, Wellston won by just a run. But it finally got the win it was looking for over a team that had been a thorn in its side for a full year. Piketon never held the lead all game, and it only managed to wake its stalled offense for one inning. Wellston had the game under lock and key from the first inning.
The only thing in front of Wellston now is the district semifinals on May 25. It will have just under a week to recoup before it takes on Minford in Paints Stadium in Chillicothe.