KINNIKINNICK, Ohio — An unfortunate turn at the midway point.
Host Zane Trace broke a one-all tie with four runs in the bottom of the fourth and ultimately held on for a 6-4 victory over the Gallia Academy baseball team on Tuesday night in a Division II sectional semifinal matchup in Ross County.
The sixth-seeded Blue Devils (15-9) never led in the contest after falling behind 1-0 after an inning of play, but the guests countered with a score in the top half of the second to pull even.
Both squads missed opportunities in the third and GAHS left a pair aboard in the fourth, but the third-seeded Pioneers (20-7) didn’t miss their big chance in the bottom of the fourth.
Christian Fetters provided a one-out single, then Camden Larson and Cougar Stauffer received consecutive walks to load the bases. Camden Farley followed with a bases-clearing single that pushed the lead out to 4-1, then Farley came in on a Lane Larson single that resulted in a 5-1 cushion.
Farley also delivered a one-out single in the fifth that drove in Larson for Zane Trace’s largest lead of the game at 6-1.
The Blue Devils started mounting a comeback in the top of the sixth as Brendan Carter reached second on a leadoff error, then scored on a passed ball with two away that allowed the guests to close the gap down to four.
Josh Faro started the seventh with a single, then Garrett McGuire and Morgan Stanley received consecutive walks to load the bases with nobody out.
Cade Roberts provided a one-out single that plated Faro for a 6-3 contest, then Trent Johnson received a two-out walk that forced home McGuire for a two-run deficit.
ZTHS, however, avoided disaster by inducing a fly ball to centerfield for the final out while also securing a date at second-seeded Athens on Thursday in the sectional final.
The Red and Blue took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Tanner Congrove provided a two-out single that drove in Elliott Lynn. The hosts also left runners stranded at first and second in both the first and the third frames.
Gallia Academy countered in the second as Roberts provided a two-out single and advanced to second on a walk to Carter. Johnson followed with a single that brought Roberts around to score for a one-all contest midway through the second.
The Blue Devils stranded nine runners on base through the first five frames, which included two baserunners apiece in four of those five innings at the plate. The guests also had a runner thrown out at the plate for the first out in the third.
The Pioneers outhit GAHS by an 11-9 overall margin, with both teams committing two errors apiece in the contest. The Blue and White stranded a dozen runners on base, while the hosts left 10 on the bags.
Chad Ison was the winning pitcher of record after allowing one earned run, seven hits and three walks over 4.1 innings while striking out seven. Farley also surrendered three runs (two earned), two hits and three walks over 2.2 frames of relief while fanning four.
Zane Loveday took the loss for the Blue Devils after allowing five runs (four earned), four hits and two walks over 3.1 innings. Faro gave up one earned run and seven hits over 2.2 innings of relief work.
Faro and Roberts paced Gallia Academy with two hits each, followed by McGuire, Carter, Johnson, Wyatt Sipple and Cole Davis with a safety apiece. Johnson drove in two RBIs and Roberts also knocked in a run.
Congrove led Zane Trace with three hits, while Farley, Lynn, Fetters and Larson each tacked on two hits apiece for the victors. Farley led the hosts with four RBIs.
It was the final baseball game for seniors Justin McClelland, Josh Faro, Morgan Stanley, Wyatt Sipple, Cole Davis, Garrett McGuire and Brendan Carter in the Blue and White.
Gallia Academy finished third in the Ohio Valley Conference this spring with a 9-5 league mark.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.