ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — A walkoff is a walkoff, no matter how it comes.
The Meigs baseball team claimed a 2-1 non-conference victory over visiting Gallia Academy on Wednesday night, as sophomore Christian Mattox drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning that allowed Zach Helton to score the game-winning run.
The Blue Devils (1-2) scored the game’s opening run, as senior Kole Carter singled and later scored on an MHS error in the top of the first inning.
Meigs (3-0) evened the score in the bottom of the third inning, when senior Kaileb Sheets — who reached base on a GAHS error to start the inning — was singled home by Layne Acree.
The Marauders had a chance to go ahead in the bottom of the fifth inning, advancing two runners into scoring position with one out, but a line-out to the second baseman made the second out of the frame. After a four-pitch walk loaded the bases, GAHS freshman southpaw Josh Faro recorded his fourth strikeout of the game to end the inning.
Meigs left two more runners in scoring position in the sixth inning and the teams remained deadlocked at one. Neither team advanced a runner into scoring position in the seventh frame and the teams prepared for extra innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, GAHS loaded the bases with no outs, after two walks sandwiched around an Anthony Sipple double. Meigs escaped the inning unscathed, however, getting a 3-to-2 ground-out, a shallow fly-out to right field and a strikeout by relief pitcher Luke Musser.
The Maroon and Gold loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but GAHS reliever Ryan Terry got the ground-ball he needed to get out of the inning.
GAHS was held scoreless in the top of the ninth, and Meigs’ began the bottom of the frame with a single by Helton. Musser reached base on a Gallia Academy error, and a single by Alec Bissell loaded the bases with no outs. A strikeout gave the Blue Devils their first out of the frame, but Mattox drew a six-pitch walk to bring home Helton and give the Marauders a 2-1 win.
“We’re coming off of a great win last night and we came back to beat another great program in Gallia Academy,” sixth-year Marauders head coach Brent Bissell said. “It’s tough with back-to-back games like that, but out kids gutted it out. It’s a credit to our kids being mentally tough and hanging in there.”
Musser earned the pitching victory for MHS, as he allowed just one hit and three walks in two innings of relief work. MHS junior Chase Whitlatch started the game and allowed just one unearned run on one hit and four walks in seven frames. Whitlatch struck out 10 Blue Devils, while Musser fanned one.
Terry was the losing pitcher of record for GAHS, after allowing one earned run on four hits and four walks in 3.1 innings. Faro threw five frames for the Blue Devils and allowed one unearned run on six hits and three walks. Faro struck out four Marauders, while Terry had two strikeouts in the setback.
“I thought we had great pitching tonight,” 13th-year Gallia Academy head coach Rich Corvin said. “Josh Faro’s a freshman and what more can you ask out of that guy. Then, Ryan Terry came in and did a great job. You can’t ask anymore out of those guys, we just have to get better defensively.”
Gallia Academy committed five errors in the contest, while Meigs had two. The Blue Devils had 10 runners left on base, while Meigs stranded 19 in the win.
Helton and Cody Bartrum were both 2-for-4 with two singles at the plate to lead Meigs, with Helton scoring one run. Bissell and K.J. Tracy both went 2-for-5 with two singles, while Mattox and Acree both marked one single and one RBI in five at-bats. Sheets scored one run for the victors, while Whitlatch came away with Meigs’ only stolen base.
“If we can produce runs, we’re going to win a lot of ball games,” Coach Bissell said. “Our defense is phenomenal, we just have to work on producing runs. We have the pitching staff to keep ourselves in the game.”
Sipple was 1-for-3 with one double and one stolen base to lead the Blue Devils, while Carter was 1-for-5 with one single and one run scored. GAHS is the first team to score a run against Meigs this spring.
“Offensively we have to be able to situational hit,” Coach Corvin said. “We just have to get better at it, and the bad part is that we work on it everyday. We work on getting a fly-ball to score a runner or hitting to the backside, and we’re just not getting it done in a game.”
These teams are scheduled to meet again on May 6, at Eastman Ball Field on the campus of GAHS.
Meigs will begin its Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division title defense on Friday, when the Marauders visit Vinton County. The Blue Devils begin Ohio Valley Conference play for the first time on Friday, as they invade Ironton.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.