CHILLICOTHE — Some things are even better the second time around.
That was completely true for Whiteoak on Monday.
After winning a district title last season, the Wildcats (26-2) returned to VA Memorial Stadium and reclaimed the same title with a dominant 10-0 victory over Ironton St. Joe.
The win marks the program’s third trip to the Sweet 16 since 2018.
“It felt great to get back,” Whiteoak’s Luken Roades said after the game. “Now that we’ve got experience, I think we do a lot better with it. I’m excited to go back to Lancaster.”
Roades showcased himself to be the star of the show. Getting the nod on the hill, he dazzled throughout the night, throwing a one-hit shutout and striking out nine Flyers.
And he wasted no time jumpstarting his Wildcats.
He struck out all three Flyers in the top of the first inning before, in the bottom half, starting with a lead-off single. He then stole second base and scored as Carson Emery put his team up 1-0 in the early goings.
Roades retired the next six batters he faced, including three consecutive strikeouts in the third.
The bottom of that same inning saw Whiteoak go white-hot, and it never cooled off.
“One through nine came out hot and swinging the bat,” David Donohoo said. “It’s nice to see production out of all nine hitters and we had that tonight.”
After a quick out, Roades and Landon Barnett reached scoring position before Emery drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. Nate Price followed with an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0.
Two batters later, Eli Roberts drove in Price, and Zander Roades’ RBI single after that capped a six-run explosion for Whiteoak’s offense, bringing the contest to a 7-0 tally.
“From batter to batter, it felt like there were no weak spots in our lineup tonight,” Roades said. “Everybody played a huge role and gave us great plate appearances.”
After the Flyers (19-8) went in order in the fourth, the Wildcats added two more runs in their half, thanks to a two-run single from Ian Griffith, to extend the lead to 9-0.
The game was far from over, but Whiteoak wanted to end things early, and they did just that.
Roades went back out for his fifth and final inning of work. But after retiring the first two batters, Roades faced his only stage of adversity after giving up a bloop single to Wesley Neal — the first Flyer to reach base on the day.
This hardly bothered Roades, however, as he recorded his ninth strikeout of the game on the very next at-bat, retiring the side with a goose egg on the board yet again.
The Wildcats were determined to finish the job as Donohoo, Solomon Combs, and Roades all reached base safely, loading the bases with two outs. Emery was then hit by a pitch to drive in a run and close out a district title win.
While Roades went all five innings on the mound with just one hit and nine strikeouts, he also went 2-for-3 at the plate and stole two bases. Emery followed by going 2-for-2 with a stolen base and two RBIs.
Whiteoak advances to a Division IV regional semifinal at 5 p.m. on June 1 at Beavers Field in Lancaster against Gallion.
“We just have to come in and handle business,” Roades said. “We’ve been there before, so we have to take our experience and use that to help us as we go on. Hopefully, we come in prepared and ready to go.”