CENTENARY, Ohio — Presistance pays off.
The Gallia Academy baseball team trailed 10-6 through three innings of play Thursday night but the Blue Devils chipped away and managed to take the 11-10 victory in nine innings, earning the sectional title.
Two hits and two errors helped the visiting Falcons to a pair runs in the top of the first inning but the Blue Devils had an answer. Four Minford errors along with three hits and a walk propelled Gallia Academy into a 6-2 lead through one inning.
After a scoreless second frame Minford struck big in the third inning with eight runs, highlighted by a two-run double by Alley. The Blue Devils began its slow comeback as Gage Childers tripled home Ty Warnimont in the fourth inning, trimming the lead to 10-7. A Warnimont sacrifice fly in the brought home Kole Carter in the fifth, while Eric Ward brought home Justin Sizemore with a pinch hit single in the sixth, cutting the deficit to one.
Warnimont was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning and advance to second base on a wildpitch. Childers singled to centerfield, scoring Warnimont and forcing extra innings. Both sides went down in order in the eighth inning and Minford managed just one base runner in the top of the ninth.
Sophomore second baseman Matt Bailey hit a bloop double over the first baseman’s head to lead off the GAHS ninth, and he advanced to third on a bunt by Alex White. Warnimont drew a base on balls to load the bases for Childers, who had already marked two RBIs in the game. Childers hit a sacrifice flyball, scoring Bailey and giving GAHS the 11-10 victory.
“Bailey made a great hustle play,” 11th year Gallia Academy head coach Rich Corvin said. “He hit that blooper and a lot of guys probably don’t even run that thing out, they just get mad because they hit a little blooper, but he ends up into second which is huge. Obviously we’re going to bunt there, White has bunted the thing all night long and that set it up. If we get a runner at third base with no outs or one out, we feel pretty confident that we’re gonna get him in and we were right in the part of the order we wanted to be in at that point.”
The winning pitcher of record GAHS senior and Miami RedHawks signee Gustin Graham, who threw a complete game and allowed 10 runs, just one earned, on 11 hits and a walk. Graham hit one batter and struck out five in the win. Graham allowed just two hits over the final six innings and didn’t walk a batter in that time.
“Our first goal was to get five innings out of him,” said Corvin. “If we can keep it close then we’ve got to determine how long he was going to stay in there. His pitch count got up there but he kept feeling good and started throwing the breaking ball better, later in the game which helped him out a lot.”
Comer suffered the loss for Minford after allowing 11 runs, six earned, on 14 hits and five walks while striking out nine in a complete game effort.
The GAHS offense was led by Matt Bailey with four hits, followed by Alex White and Gage Childers with three each. Eric Ward, Kole Ty Warnimont and Gustin Graham each marked one hit in the win for GAHS, while Childers had a team-high three runs batted in. Ward, Bailey, Warnimont and Graham each had one RBI in the game.
Warnimont scored a game-best three times, Bailey scored twice, while Graham, Carter, Justin Sizemore, Seth Wills and Anthony Sipple each scored once. Warnimont and White each stole a base for the Blue and White.
Alley led the Falcons with three hits and three RBIs, while Stringer had three hits and Daniels scored twice.
GAHS finished with 11 runs, 14 hits, seven errors and 12 runners left on base, while Minford had 10 runs, 11 hits, four errors and 11 runners left on.
The Blue Devils will advance to the Division II district tournament for the fourth consecutive year and will face Logan Elm, Monday at 5 p.m. at Ohio University.
“We’ve got four seniors and its good for those guys to get back there.” said Corvin.