By Terry Mazzone
When it comes to baseball, it’s no secret that league-rival Keystone has had Wellington’s number. The old Patriot Athletic Conference was around 14 years (2006-19) and not once did the Dukes sweep Keystone in league play. It took the Dukes 10 years to even beat Keystone in the PAC-12.
Someone might be able to earn “extra credit” if they locate and research old Lorain County Conference scorebooks to find the last time Wellington swept Keystone. But as of April 23, 2021, that multi-decade streak came to a halt at Penfield Community Park as the Dukes put pitching, hitting and fielding together and stopped the Wildcats, 6-3.
Momentum was certainly working in Keystone’s favor. Since the Dukes beat Keystone in early April, the Wildcats regrouped and moved up the standings to within one game of league-leading Firelands by winning six straight Lorain County 8 games, including a victory over the previously unbeaten Falcons. Meanwhile, the Dukes were coming off a disappointing loss to Clearview, who won just their second game of the season.
But the one-day postponement worked in the Dukes favor. Sophomore Riley Reyna improved to 3-1, hurling six strong innings, scattering six hits, striking out five and walking two. Reyna kept Keystone hitless through three innings, but allowed four hits and two runs in the fourth as the Wildcats trimmed the Duke lead to 5-2. However, he got of a bases load jam, when induced an inning ending double play grounder. C.J. Polen worked the seventh inning in relief for his first save of the season.
Senior Wyatt Sasack smacked a solo homer over the right field fence in the fourth inning to give Wellington a 5-0 lead. Sasack was two for four with two RBI. Sasack shares the team lead with 16 RBI with Reyna.
“Wyatt’s home run was a shot in the arm at the perfect time to help us close out the game,” Duke Coach Dan Davison said.
Cameron Brinker ended an 0 for 13 string at the plate, lacing an RBI double to left to give the Dukes a 1-0 lead. Jacob Weegman raised his team-leading batting average to .397 with two hits and Reyna helped his own cause with two hits and an RBI. Drew Unangst extended his hitting streak to seven games with a base hit.
“This was a great win,” Davison said. “It’s been a really long time since Wellington baseball has swept Keystone in a season.
“I continue to be impressed by this team’s capabilities. Reyna pitched a gem. He was spotting his fast ball and had great bit and location on his curve ball. The defense behind him was solid and our offense got it going early in the game.”
The Dukes scored four runs in the second. Weegman led off with a single and Brinker delivered his 13th RBI of the season with a double to left. Walks to Jacob Evans and Unangst loaded the bases and an RBI grounder by Sasack gave the Dukes a 2-0 lead. Tyler Moore drew a two-out walk to load the bases and extend his on-base streak to six games. Reyna kept the rally going with a line drive single to third and Wayde Bowman walked to score the Dukes fourth run of the inning. They extended the lead to 5-0 on Sasack’s homer in the fourth.
The Dukes got an insurance run in the sixth when Moore drew a bases load walk to score Unangst. Keystone trimmed the lead to 6-3 in the sixth with a pair of doubles off of Reyna. Polen preserved the win in the seventh, retiring the Wildcats in order.
“We are going to take the weekend and enjoy this win and then focus on two big conference games this week,” Davison said.
The Dukes are now 11-5 on the season and 5-4 in the league, good for fourth place. Keystone falls to 10-8 overall and 6-3 in league play. The Dukes host winless Oberlin Monday at Larry DeVoe Memorial Field in the Wellington Community Recreation Park and travel to Columbia Tuesday to take on the second place Raiders. The Dukes will host first place Firelands on Thursday. Games start at 5 p.m.