CENTENARY, Ohio — The first half of handling the Hornets’ nest is complete.
That’s because the Gallia Academy High School baseball team, in its first of back-of-back days of facing the Coal Grove Hornets, captured a key 5-2 Ohio Valley Conference victory on Monday —at the Robert Eastman BallField at Gallia Academy High School.
The Blue Devils, after an 0-2 start to the OVC season, have climbed all the way out of their early hole —and actually reached the top of the league standings.
The young yet defending champion Blue Devils, entering Tuesday’s tilt at Coal Grove, were tied atop the OVC with the Hornets —as both clubs now carried 7-3 conference marks.
The Blue Devils also improved to 10-5 with their fourth consecutive win, while the Hornets fell to 10-4 with the 5-2 defeat.
Tuesday’s game at Coal Grove was a makeup matchup, but will go a long way — just as Monday’s did — in determining the OVC champion.
Ironton also entered Monday’s OVC slate with three league losses.
For the Blue Devils, which travel to Chesapeake today (Wednesday, April 26), they walked their way past the Hornets to an early 5-0 advantage.
Gallia Academy — on the aid of a leadoff error, a hit batsman and back-to-back RBI-singles —amounted a pair of first-inning tallies, followed by three more runs in the third.
In that inning, the Blue Devils did bat around —but actually drew five walks for their three runs along with another hit batsman.
In fact, the only hit in that inning was by Jeremy Brumfield, who enjoyed a 3-for-3 day at the plate while pitching a complete-game three-hit gem.
Brumfield struck out five and walked only two, and allowed just an unearned run in the fourth followed by an earned point in the sixth.
He threw an even 100 pitches, retired the side 1-2-3 in the second, fifth and seventh stanzas, and faced the minimum three in the third.
Daniel Rutherford, who drew both of Coal Grove’s walks and scored both of the Hornets’ runs, doubled in the sixth inning —and scored on a Dylan Malone single.
But Brumfield retired the final five Hornets he faced, as he stranded runners on the corners in the fourth — and at first and second in the sixth.
In both innings, Jeb Jones —who singled in the fourth and was hit by a pitch in the sixth — was the lead runner.
Rutherford was left stranded at first in the first.
The Blue Devils did strand a whopping 11 men themselves, but took advantage of nine walks and two hit batsmen by Coal Grove’s two pitchers.
Chase McKnight started and suffered the pitching loss —working only two and two-thirds innings before being relieved for Malone.
McKnight walked seven and hit both Blue Devils, as he gave up four earned runs on thee hits with five strikeouts.
Malone walked two and struck out two, as he also allowed three hits.
In the Blue Devils’ opening at-bat, John Stout reached on an error and Brody Thomas was hit by a pitch — before they both crossed on RBI-singles by Smith and Brumfield.
In the third, Thomas and Bailey Walker walked — sandwiched around Brumfield’s single.
All three came home on RBI-walks to Josh Faro, Braden Simms and Stout.
Thomas in the fourth, Stout in the fifth and Brumfield in the sixth were the only other Blue Devil basehits.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106