THE PLAINS, Ohio — As Newfound Glory once sang, it’s all downhill from here.
That was absolutely the narrative for the River Valley High School baseball team on Friday, as the visiting Raiders scored the game’s initial run — but surrendered 11 unanswered en route to losing to the Athens Bulldogs 11-1 at Rannow Field in The Plains.
The winless-in-the-league Raiders led the undefeated-for-the-division Bulldogs 1-0, but Athens — in winning another Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division championship — answered that tally and never looked back.
The Bulldogs, bolstered by the first pitching appearance of the year by standout Brendan Sano, scored three runs in the third inning and five in the fourth — before crossing once each in the final two at-bats.
The contest was called two outs into the sixth inning with the 10-run mercy rule.
For the Bulldogs, which clinched at least a share of the league crown, they raised their record to 16-3 — and a perfect 10-0 in the TVC-Ohio.
Since joining the conference for the 2008-09 academic year, it is Athens’ six league title in baseball.
The Raiders, meanwhile, continue to struggle.
River Valley fell to 3-11 — and remains winless in the TVC-Ohio at 0-10.
The Raiders registered only three hits, including a single to lead off the game by Austin Ragan.
With one out, Dustin Barber put down a sacrifice bunt, followed by an error on the Athens catcher when the ball wasn’t cleanly fielded.
With Ragan on second and Barber at first, Devin McDonald reached on an error, allowing Ragan to cross for the short-lived 1-0 lead.
The only other Raider hits were by McDonald and Jack Farley, who suffered the pitching loss in working the opening three and two-thirds innings.
He gave up nine runs on nine hits, but only two of those were earned, as the Raiders were guilty of five errors.
Ragan relieved Farley for the final two frames, allowing two hits and two runs with one earned.
Waylon Bradbury earned the win for Athens, pitching four innings and striking out six while giving up one unearned run on three hits.
Sano, who started as the designated hitter and went 3-for-4 with three runs batted in, took over for Bradbury in the final two innings.
The Athens ace didn’t allow a run or a hit, walked only one, and struck out six Raiders including his final five.
Sano’s bat did the work at the beginning of the day.
As the second-hole hitter behind leadoff man Andy Kostival, Sano singled to center to plate Kostival, who led off the opening inning with a double to left field.
In the third, Sano gave the Bulldogs the lead for good when Nate Trainer singled, Kostival reached on an error, and Sano doubled to right-center to make it 3-1.
Kostival collected two hits with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106