CENTENARY, Ohio — With Josh Faro throwing better by the dozen, the young Blue Devils picked up a much-needed win.
That’s because the Gallia Academy High School baseball squad, paced by the ace Faro’s three-hit complete-game gem, captured a 4-2 Ohio Valley Conference victory on Monday over visiting Chesapeake —at the Robert Eastman BallField at Gallia Academy High School.
The sophomore southpaw Faro, in going the distance, struck out 12 Panther batters —before allowing two runs in the sixth stanza to make things a bit more interesting.
But the Blue Devils did escape the jam — as Faro left the Panthers on the corners before a two-out walk in the top of the seventh.
Gallia Academy — on the strength of single runs in the second and third innings and a two-run two-hit two-out output in the fourth —amounted a 4-0 lead.
With Faro in command, the Blue Devils desperately got an important triumph in the OVC.
Gallia Academy, after three consecutive losses including back-to-back one-run league setbacks at home (2-1 to South Point and 5-4 to Fairland), evened its record to 3-3.
The defending OVC champions are now 1-2 in the conference.
“This is a big win to start a busy week,” said GAHS coach Rich Corvin. “That’s fun baseball and it’s easy to play whenever your pitcher deals like that. (Josh) Faro was on tonight with 12 strikeouts and held them to three hits. Last week was a rough week losing two league games at home by one run each. But we’re right there, we just have to get over the hump. This was a good win that hopefully gets us there.”
Faro faced the Panther lineup three times through, and threw 69 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
Before the Chesapeake sixth, Faro retired the Panthers 1-2-3 in innings one and four, including striking out the side in the fourth.
He saw the minimum three in the second and fifth, allowing only singles to Bryce Depriest (second) and Zach Wright (fifth).
He faced four Panthers apiece in the third and seventh stanzas, as his pitching counterpart Tyler Eddy reached on an error in the third and walked in the seventh.
Still, Chesapeake sliced the deficit in half in the sixth, as Casey McComas struck with a two-out lightning double before stealing third.
Evan Burcham then walked, as McComas and Burcham both scored on the combination of an error, a wild pitch, and a passed ball on a dropped third strike.
With runners on the corners, though, Faro induced Depriest to fly out to center field to end the threat.
Eddy opened the game on the mound for the Panthers, and worked the opening five innings in allowing four runs on eight hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
Austin Browning relieved Eddy in the sixth and struck out one.
The Blue Devils made it 1-0 in the second —on a combination of a double by Garrett McGuire, a single by Cole Davis, a sacrifice bunt by Dylan Smith and an RBI by Faro on an error.
In the third, John Stout singled to lead off, Braden Simms sacrificed, and Jeremy Brumfield singled.
In the fourth, Gallia Academy made it 4-0 on the combination of Smith being hit by a pitch, a Tanner Allen single and a Stout RBI-double.
Gallia Academy’s only other baserunners were Simms with a bunt single in the first and Brody Thomas with a single in the fifth.
Corvin said he played some switch-a-roo with his lineup —both in the field and at the dish.
“We mixed up the order a little bit and the defense a little bit. We moved Braden Simms from catcher to third and put Garrett McGuire behind the plate,” he said.
Gallia Academy returned to the road, and stepped out of league play, on Tuesday at Jackson.
The Blue Devils are back in OVC action on Thursday —when they travel to Rock Hill.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106