ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — As it turned out, the Wellston Golden Rockets threw a wrench into the Meigs Marauders’ league championship plans.
That’s because visiting Wellston, in rallying from a 2-0 first-inning deficit, stunned the Marauders 6-5 on Wednesday in a key Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division baseball tilt.
Meigs scored two opening-inning runs on three hits, but went cold at the plate against Wellston ace pitcher Noah Henry until the fifth frame.
The Golden Rockets, rather, batted around in the fourth inning and scored four runs on five hits — and chased Meigs starting pitcher Kaileb Sheets in favor of ace Chase Whitlatch.
But Whitlatch allowed two runs on five hits in his three full innings of work, as Wellston made it 5-2 in the fifth and 6-4 in the sixth.
Henry, who faced four Marauders apiece in innings two and three, retired the side 1-2-3 in the fourth and seventh — and secured the complete-game pitching win with three walks and three strikeouts.
He scattered seven hits, but none of the Meigs five thru nine-hole hitters had any.
The outcome enormously impacted the TVC-Ohio championship chase, as the Marauders fell to 9-2 in the division — while Wellston and Alexander are now 7-2.
As a result, instead of clinching at least a share of the title against Wellston, Meigs must win at Alexander today to do just that.
Meanwhile, Alexander and Wellston will play each other next week, as the Golden Rockets host River Valley today — and Alexander entertains the Raiders next week too.
Wellston, as its victory kept itself in league championship contention, will also host Athens next week in a makeup matchup.
For the Marauders, however, a clear-cut path to an outright league title took a sudden detour.
They stranded six runners against Henry — and all were in scoring position.
Meigs did take a 2-0 lead on its initial at-bat, when Christian Mattox tripled to lead off — followed by back-to-back RBI-singles by Sheets and Whitlatch to score Mattox and Sheets.
But the only other Marauder baserunners until the one-run fifth and sixth stanzas were Alec Bissell reaching on a leadoff error in the second and Whitlatch reaching on a leadoff walk in the third.
Bissell was stranded at second and Whitlatch at third, and the Golden Rockets’ rally was underway from there.
Wellston — with back-to-back singles by Hunter Whalen and Justin Rafferty and a walk by Michael Graham — did load the bases in the second, as Henry singled and Connor Bates walked in the third.
In the fourth, the Rockets touched up Sheets, scoring four runs on four hits and a leadoff walk by Whalen.
Rafferty reached on a fielder’s choice, as singles by Graham, Caleb Stanley, Henry and Bates brought in Rafferty, Graham and Stanley.
Stanley and Henry had RBIs.
With two outs in the fourth, Whitlatch was inserted on the mound, but Levi Rafferty’s RBI-single to score Henry completed the comeback with Wellston leading 4-2.
The Rockets added another run in the fifth, when Whitlatch hit Justin Rafferty and Graham back-to-back — and Braydon Womeldorf drove in Rafferty on a two-out single to right field.
The Marauders managed to trim the deficit to 5-4 in the fifth — when Mattox and Sheets singled to lead off and Whitlatch walked to load the bases.
Cody Bartrum’s RBI-single scored Mattox, and Zach Helton’s RBI plated Whitlatch, but Henry battled back with three straight outs on back-to-back fielder’s choices and a flyout to center.
The two clubs then exchanged two-out single runs in the sixth, as Wellston’s Nick Cox and Rafferty singled — sandwiched around another walk to Whalen.
Cox scored on Rafferty’s RBI-single, as Rafferty, Henry and Womeldorf led the Rockets with two hits apiece.
All dozen of Wellston’s baseknocks were singles.
Sheets walked three and struck out three in his opening three-and-two-thirds, while Whitlatch walked two and whiffed three.
The Marauders made it 6-5 in the sixth, when Mattox reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on Sheets’ RBI-single.
Sheets reached third for the game-tying run, but Henry induced Whitlatch into an inning-ending groundout.
In addition to today’s game at Alexander, the Marauders travel to Philo on Saturday for a non-league doubleheader.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106