ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Simply too big of a hole to dig out of.
The eighth-seeded Meigs baseball team fell behind ninth-seeded Ironton by seven runs on Wednesday in Meigs County, with the visiting Fighting Tigers holding on for the 7-4 victory in the Division III sectional semifinal.
Meigs (10-11) allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in the second inning, and then surrendered five runs on three hits, two hit batters, a walk and an error in the top of the third.
The Marauder offense ended a two-inning drought in the home half of the third inning, as Cole Arnott singled on a Wesley Smith, and then Cory Cox scored on an error.
Meigs pulled within four runs in the bottom of the fourth frame, as Landon Acree scored on a two-out single from Cox. The Maroon and Gold loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth, but left the potential tying run at the plate.
After MHS sophomore Alex Pierce drove in classmate Bailey Jones in the bottom of the seventh, the Fighting Tigers sealed their 7-4 victory with an unassisted double-play by second baseman Cameron Deere.
Following the season-ending setback, first-year MHS head coach Britt Dodson discussed the Marauders future after graduating just one senior — starting center fielder Wesley Smith — as well as what goals his squad achieved this season.
“Our motto this season has been to buy in, and they finally bought in,” Dodson said. “We have everybody back next year except Wes, we have a stud eighth-grader coming up, and we have some jay-vee players moving up. Jay-vee’s going to be strong again, they won the TVC this year. It’s nothing but upwards from here.
“My goal was to win eight games, and then my second goal was to win 10 games. I was hoping to win in the sectional today, but it didn’t work out. There’s always next year.”
The Marauders improved their win-total by two from the 2018 season, in which they were 8-12. Meigs has now recorded double-digit wins in 12 of the last 13 years.
Matt Gilkey took the pitching loss in 2-plus innings for Meigs, allowing six earned runs on six hits, two hit batters, and one walk. Briar Wolfe pitched the remainder of the game in relief, striking out eight batters, walking two, hitting one and giving up an unearned run and three hits.
Jacob Sloan was the winning pitcher of record for IHS striking out two batters, walking four and hitting one, while surrendering three runs, one earned, on five hits. Ashton Duncan earned the save for the guests, allowing one unearned run, while striking out one batter and walking another.
In his final game in the Maroon and Gold, Smith led the Marauder offense, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Cox singled once, scored once and drove in a run for Meigs, Arnott came up with a single and an RBI, while Gilkey added a single. Jones and Acree each scored once for the hosts, while Pierce picked up an RBI.
Ethan Duncan went 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a run batted in to lead the Fighting Tiger offense, while Beau Brownstead was 2-for-2 with an RBI. Ryan Ashley, Gunnar Crawford and Kyle Howell each singled once, scored once and drove in a run for Ironton, while Collin Freeman singled once and scored twice. Brycen Thomas contributed a single and a run to the winning cause, while Sloan chipped in with an RBI.
The Marauders committed five errors and left 10 runners on base, while the Fighting Tigers had four errors and eight runners stranded.
With the majority of the roster eligible to return, Coach Dodson is looking for his team to put in time and effort this offseason to keep improving.
“We’re going to be working out, as much as I’m legally allowed to do,” Dodson said. “We’re going to be weight lifting and working out, I just have to find out the dates and stuff. I want all the kids to play summer ball. I have a lot of football players too, so we’re going to be working out for football and baseball.”
Ironton moves on to Saturday’s sectional championship game against top-seeded host Wheelersburg.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.