CENTENARY, Ohio — A promising start to the ‘second season’.
The seventh seeded Gallia Academy baseball team began postseason play in style Monday night, defeating 10-seed Vinton County by a 10-0 final in five innings, at Eastman Ball Field.
The Blue Devils (16-9) went ahead in the bottom of the first inning, as Kole Carter doubled and then scored on a passed ball. GAHS senior Matt Bailey — who bunted for a hit, stole second base and then advanced to third on the passed ball that scored Carter — stole home to give the Blue and White a 2-0 lead with one out.
The Blue Devil lead grew to 3-0 later in the first inning, as Eric Ward scored on a Jeremy Brumfield ground-out.
Gallia Academy scored two more runs in the bottom of the second inning, as Braden Simms scored on a single by Carter, who then stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored on a sac-fly by Bailey.
Vinton County (2-22) held the hosts scoreless in the third inning, but the Blue Devil offense was back on track in the bottom of the fourth. Carter led off the fourth frame with a single, Bailey then reached on an error, and both runners eventually scored on seprate passed balls.
Anthony Sipple — a GAHS senior that walked with no outs in the fourth — scored on the Vikings’ second defensive mishap of the frame. The Blue Devils weren’t finished in the fourth inning, however, as Ryan Terry hit a sac-fly that brought home Eric Ward and pushed the lead to 9-0.
GAHS junior Ty Howell drew a base on ball to lead off the fifth inning, and the Blue Devils loaded the bases with back-to-back one-out singles by Carter and Bailey. Sipple came through with a single to deep right-center field, plating Howell and capping off the 10-0 mercy rule victory.
“You just have to win and advance,” GAHS head coach Rich Corvin said. “We scrimmaged (Vinton County) early, but you can’t really tell much in a scrimmage. Records can be deciving, everybody starts the postseason with a clean slate. With (Josh) Faro, our main thing was just to stay around the plate and throw strikes.”
GAHS freshman Josh Faro tossed a complete game shutout for GAHS and earned the pitching victory, allowing five hits, while striking out eight batters and walking zero.
The losing pitcher of record was VCHS starter Austin Ward — who struck out three batters in three innings pitched — while allowing eight runs, six earned, on five hits, two walks and two hit batters. Jeffery Harper pitched the final 1.1 innings in relief and he gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits and one walk.
Carter led the victors at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three runs scored, one RBI and two stolen bases. Bailey was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three stolen bases, Sipple doubled once, scored once and drove in one run, while Simms had one single and one run scored. Eric Ward scored twice and stole two bases for GAHS, Howell scored once, while Terry and Brumfield each had one RBI.
Austin Ward led the Vikings with two hits, while Bailey Bartoe, Dakota Hashman and Donnie Stevens each singled once.
Gallia Academy had one error in the win, while VCHS had five. Both teams left six runners on base.
The Blue Devils advance to Thursday’s sectional final at Meigs High School, where they will take on the second-seeded Marauders. Meigs and GAHS met in Rocksprings on March 30, and the Maroon and Gold claimed a 2-1, extra innings victory.
“We’re trying to get runs early and play with a lead,” Corvin said. “(Meigs) has good pitching and they make routine plays in the field. We’ll see what they have.”
Vinton County’s postseason run is over, but the Vikings still have a regular season meeting with Athens left on the schedule.
After Monday’s game, Gallia Academy honored seniors Zach Graham, Anthony Sipple, Eric Ward, Ryan Terry, Marcus Moore, Matt Bailey and Kole Carter, all of whom played their final game at Eastman Ball Field. GAHS also paid tribute to senior Micah Saunders, who has served as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils this spring.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.