CENTENARY, Ohio — Offensively, the Blue Devils definitely didn’t win this one the Smith-Barney way.
But, they certainly can’t complain about Jeremy Brumfield’s final pitching performance on the home field.
That’s because Brumfield, a senior, threw a two-hit no-walk complete-game gem — and host Gallia Academy captured a 5-0 shutout victory over visiting Vinton County in Monday’s Division II sectional semifinal at the Robert Eastman Ballfield.
Brumfield struck out six, stranded five Vikings, and retired the Vikings 1-2-3 in three of the final four innings.
He had faced four batters apiece in the first, second and sixth — and overcame back-to-back fielding errors in the third to leave two Vikings aboard with a 3-0 lead.
At the plate, the Blue Devils only amounted five hits, as all five of their runs were unearned —thanks to Vinton County committing three second-inning errors and another in the fifth.
Gallia Academy scored three times in the second and twice more in the fifth frame — on only two hits apiece.
But, in tournament play, it’s all about survive and advance — and the seventh-seeded Blue Devils did just that, while raising their record to 15-8.
“This tournament win is good for these young kids’ confidence, and they’ve been talking a little bit about a matchup with Athens. It’s good for these seniors to get a win in their last game on this field. Jeremy Brumfield pitched a pretty good game. He didn’t walk a guy and gave up only two hits. That’s a pretty good outing,” said GAHS coach Rich Corvin. “We wanted to put the ball in play, but we have to get better offensively. That’s no secret to that. But when you don’t give up any runs, you have a pretty good chance to win.”
Indeed you do.
Now, more importantly, the young Ohio Valley Conference co-champions get an opportunity at Athens — the second seed in the sectional and the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division champs.
The Bulldogs boast a stellar record of 20-3, and were the Division II regional runners-up a year ago.
First pitch for Thursday’s sectional championship is set for 5 p.m.— at Athens High School’s Rannow Field.
The Bulldogs, only last Tuesday, defeated the Blue Devils 6-2 at Gallia Academy.
But, the Blue and White was still on a high — having clinched its share of its second consecutive OVC title a day earlier.
On Thursday, the Blue Devils will have had two days off in between.
Still, they will need to hit the ball better, and not rely on Athens errors as they did against the Vikings.
In the second, and against Vinton County pitcher Jeffery Harper, Gallia Academy combined a one-out walk to Brumfield, a 6-4 fielder’s choice, three errors, a stolen base and RBI-singles by Braden Simms and John Stout.
Dylan Smith, Tanner Allen and Simms scored in the inning, as Josh Davis drove in Allen on an error.
All three runs crossed the plate with two outs.
Harper, who also went the distance and even retired the Blue Devils 1-2-3 in the first, third and sixth stanzas —had kept the Vikings close until Gallia Academy’s other two runs in the fifth.
GAHS combined a Cole Davis single, a stolen base, a dropped third strike, a Brody Thomas sacrifice fly to score Davis and a Brumfield single to plate pinch-runner Brenden Carter.
The Blue Devils’ only other hit off Harper, who struck out five, was Smith’s single down the third-base line to lead off the fourth.
Brumfield did have some defensive help, despite Gallia Academy making three errors.
Vinton County’s Jaydon Spires smacked a triple to right center on the game’s second at-bat, but Brumfield stranded him — thanks to Garrett McGuire’s diving catch in left field to rob Lincoln Hayes.
Hayes had the Vikings’ only other hit in the sixth — a two-out single to center.
The loss ended 10th-seeded Vinton County’s season at 5-15.
For the Blue Devils, it’s now a colossal contest against Athens for the sectional championship — and a likely look at Athens ace pitcher Brendan Sano.
Corvin said young Gallia Academy is going to give it everything it has.
“Thursday is going to be a big test obviously. We’re going to try and figure out ways to get guys on base and get them around somehow,” he said. “I’m guessing we’re going to see (Brendan) Sano on the mound, but we’ll see what we can do and let the chips fall.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106