ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — On a cold day, Chase Whitlatch brought the heat.
The junior ace pitcher for the Meigs Marauders managed to toss a complete game five-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts, as the Marauders mustered a key early-season 6-0 win over the visiting Athens Bulldogs on Monday.
It was a critical Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchup — and one in which the still undefeated Marauders played superb amid cold and windy conditions at Meigs High School.
Whitlatch was especially sharp in the chill, facing 28 batters and allowing only five hits, while walking and hitting Athens’ Brock Stewart once each.
At the plate, the Marauders rapped out six runs on 11 hits, including two runs in the second, three in the fifth and finally one more in the sixth.
With the win, the Marauders — which are the defending division champions along with Athens and Alexander — remained perfect at 7-0, including 2-0 in the TVC-Ohio.
Alexander and Wellston won on Monday as well, keeping pace with the Marauders atop the division.
Athens, at 3-5 overall, fell one game back to 1-1 in the league.
As early as it is in the season, the Marauders still needed the win over the Bulldogs.
Especially against Athens ace Brendan Sano, who also went the distance with Whitlatch — and struck out 10.
“This was a big league win for us. I’m proud of our kids. When Brendan (Sano) is on the mound, you have to find a way to score a few runs, and we had some timely hitting,” said Meigs coach Brent Bissell. “Athens is a great team and we’re going to get their best every time we play.”
But the Bulldogs ran into Whitlatch, who was locked in despite the constant wind gusts.
As part of his 11 strikeouts, he recorded two in each in the opening two innings, and struck out the side 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth —part of eight retired in a row.
“Chase did just a great job for us tonight. You just have to let him go out there and do his thing,” said Bissell.
Stewart doubled and Brody Rodgers singled in the second, but both were left stranded, as was Andy Kostival after his one-out double in the third.
Stewart was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth, but the next eight Bulldogs failed to reach base until Stewart was walked in the sixth.
Luke Carpenter then doubled for the Bulldogs for runners at second and third, but Whitlatch induced Rogers into an inning-ending groundout to Meigs third baseman Christian Mattox.
Cameron Kasler singled in the seventh for Athens’ only other hit, but an infield fly off the bat of Kostival eventually resulted in a 1-5-4 forceout to end the game.
The Marauders got all the runs they needed for the win in the second stanza — following four consecutive hits, including Alec Bissell’s RBI-double.
Layne Acree, Zach Helton and Luke Musser all singled in the second, as Acree and Helton both scored on Bissell’s two-bagger.
Mattox and Whitlatch both singled and Cody Bartrum walked in the third, as Helton singled in the fourth, but Sano escaped those jams.
But not in the fifth — as Meigs made it 5-0 on three more runs on three consecutive hits.
Sano walked Mattox to lead off, as Kaileb Sheets then doubled him in, followed by another Whitlatch single.
Bartrum’s RBI-double then made it 5-0.
In the sixth, and with two outs, Sheets singled and Whitlatch reached on an error — setting up back-to-back walks to Bartrum and Acree.
Acree’s RBI scored Sheets for the six-run lead.
The Marauders return to TVC-Ohio action on Wednesday — when they travel to Nelsonville-York (0-2 TVC-Ohio).
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106