Welch tossed a complete-game one hitter as the Wildcats knocked off Sulligent 3-0 at Oakman High School.
With Welch shutting down the Blue Devils, Oakman needed just one big hit. Williams delivered, coming through with a two-run single in the fourth inning that bounced over the Sulligent third baseman for a 2-0 lead. Oakman added an insurance run an inning later.
Welch allowed one hit — a bloop single to center field — and two walks while striking out five in seven innings.
The senior ace ran into trouble in the second inning, walking a batter and hitting a batter.
He got out of the jam with two ground outs and Sulligent didn’t threaten the rest of the way.
“I had a rough going through the first few innings,” Welch said. “My defense really helped me out today. It’s just amazing how far we’ve come. Fielding has always been an issue for us, but we’ve worked hard on that. This is probably the best fielding team I’ve seen since I was in ninth grade. That speaks to coaching.”
Williams had two fielding gems in the game. Making a lunging catch on a foul pop in the third inning and darting out of the box to field the ball and throw out a Sulligent hitter on a fifth-inning bunt attempt.
“(Reilly) has been a rock for us behind the plate. He’s been with me since the ninth grade. I think he’s caught every game but two or three of mine. Without a good catcher, you can’t get anything going,” Welch added.
Along with his defensive prowess, Williams also led the team at the plate, going 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Kason Madden had Oakman’s only other hit, a bunt single in the sixth inning.
Oakman (12-8 overall, 3-0 in 2A, Area 11) broke a scoreless tie in the fourth. Both Zac Blanton and Welch reached on errors to start the inning. After a Caleb Woods sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, Williams drove in two runs with a bouncing single down the left field line.
In the fifth, Dylan Willcutt reached on a one-out error and scored on a second error for a 3-0 lead.
The rest of the game was all Welch.
“This is what we’ve gotten out of Andrew all year long,” Oakman coach Chris Coons said. “If we score a couple of runs, we have a chance. Reilly played out of his mind today. He had two of our three hits. They both did a great job. We needed that first one (against Sulligent) and we got it.”
Sulligent’s Hunter Rhody was the tough-luck loser. He allowed three hits, three walks and hit two batters while striking out two. He didn’t allow an earned run and was done in by four costly errors.
Oakman makes the trip to Sulligent today for another area matchup at 4:30 p.m. A win would give the Wildcats a sweep. If Sulligent wins, the teams will play a second game today to serve as the tie-breaker.
“Half the job is done. Now we have to come out and finish it,” Welch said.
The Wildcats wrap up area play next week with a home and away series with Lamar County.
Oakman has now won five straight games and has outscored its opponents 33-2 during the run.