Wellston’s Logan Martin slides into home plate for a run in the bottom of the first inning against Piketon in Thursday’s sectional championship game. (Photo By Ron Butcher)
Wellston’s Logan Martin slides into home plate for a run in the bottom of the first inning against Piketon in Thursday’s sectional championship game. (Photo By Ron Butcher)

WELLSTON – After a successful regular season, the Wellston Golden Rockets have something to show for it.

On Thursday, Wellston and Piketon engaged in an entertaining battle in the Division III sectional championship at Veterans Park. In the end, it was the Rockets who emerged with a 3-2 win and their first sectional title since 2019.

“These guys deserve this. We’ve had a heck of the season, and even though we don’t have a league title to show for it, we needed something to show for our success this year,” said Wellston head coach Morgan Stevens. “We played well tonight. Logan (Martin) threw a gem, and they (Piketon) didn’t touch him until the sixth inning.

“We got three runs early, and then we went silent offensively. There were times we got the lead-off guy on, but nothing followed, so we must make sure we take care of that and execute those types of things. But I am just so happy for these kids to have something to show for our outstanding season.”

After the game, assistant coach Chris Graham told the team not to be satisfied with this win and to keep it going. He said they were good enough to beat teams and continue to move forward.

“I believe, and our kids believe,” said Stevens. “Coach Graham calls our pitches, and he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. He called a really good game tonight, but we can call whatever we want. It is up to the pitcher to execute those pitches.

“I thought Logan and Jeremiah (Frisby), behind the plate, executed well tonight.”

The Rockets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second inning, but Piketon rallied to score a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to trail 3-2.

Piketon had the tying run on at second with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Martin struck out the final batter to end the game.

“I try not to show emotion when I’m on the mound. I just block everything out, and I go out and do what I know how to do best,” said Martin.

What he did best was throw strikes – 72 of them to be exact – which led to 12 strikeouts in a complete-game victory.

The right-handed sophomore, who had a one-hitter working in his favor through five innings, gave up two runs on three hits, all with two outs in the sixth, before getting a strikeout to end the inning.

Martin, who faced five batters over the minimum (21) did not issue a walk on the afternoon.

“He was dialed in today,” said Stevens. “His fastball was working, and he was getting his curveball over. He was hitting his spots the entire game. He threw an outstanding game today.”

With the win, the Rockets improved to 19-6 on the season, and will face Minford in a Division III district semifinal game Wednesday at the VA Memorial Stadium. Meanwhile, Piketon closed out its season with a 12-13 record.

Wellston unloaded on Piketon starting pitcher Roger Woodruff in the bottom of the first inning. Josh Jackson reached on an error, and Martin singled with one out.

Then Will Briggs and Zach Wilbur greeted Woodruff with a pair of RBI singles to give the Rockets a 2-0 lead.

Wellston added another run in the second inning, as Frisby had a two-out single that scored Nik Hill for a 3-0 lead.

The Rockets were able to get their leadoff man aboard in three of its final four at-bats but did not produce any runs.

However, Piketon, which had just one hit on a single by Tra Swayne in the top of the first, scored two runs in the top of the sixth. Johnny Burton, who reached on a single with two outs, scored on a triple by Swayne. Then Chase Carson doubled to score Swayne, but Martin struck out Woodruff to end the inning.

Piketon got the tying run aboard in the seventh when Milik Diack reached on an error and went to second on a wild pitch. But Martin got Christian Horn to pop out and struck out Kydan Potts to end the game.

Wellston finished with eight hits. Briggs went 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI to lead the offense, while seven of its nine hitters reached base at least once off Woodruff.

Woodruff, who allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits with nine strikeouts and one walk was charged with the loss for Piketon.

Wednesday’s district semifinal matchup against Minford will be a rematch from the semifinals in 2019. Minford won 12-2 and went on to appear in the state semifinals, losing to Ridgewood 4-3.

“We have played over at the VA quite a few times this year,” said Stevens. “I did that on purpose, so we are no strangers to playing there. We know Wednesday is going to be a big stage for us. We just have to go handle it and see how it goes.”

The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.