CENTENARY, Ohio — From here on out, besides their bats, the Blue Devils need to bring some shovels to their games.
That’s because, unfortunately for Gallia Academy, it has to dig out of a hole in the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
On Tuesday, in a key early-season OVC baseball tilt, the host Blue Devils dropped a 5-4 decision to the Fairland Dragons — and fell to 0-2 in the league.
The Blue Devils are the defending OVC champions, but Gallia Academy is a young squad this year.
With the loss, which was the Blue and White’s third consecutive and all at home, GAHS is now 2-3.
The Blue Devils did jump out to a 3-0 lead after the opening inning, but the Dragons erupted for four runs on four hits in the fourth.
Gallia Academy tied the bout at 4-4 with a single marker in the fourth, but Fairland —on the combination of back-to-back basehits, a passed ball and a fielder’s choice —forged ahead 5-4 in the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils did threaten — beginning with Jeremy Brumfield being hit by a pitch.
But Fairland right-fielder Jace Vonville robbed Cole Davis of an extra-base hit with a diving catch, then Dylan Smith’s single to left eventually resulted in a relay throw that tagged out Brumfield at the plate.
Fairland pitcher Dylan Raines, who allowed only one earned run on three hits with two walks, retired the side 1-2-3 in the seventh to preserve the win.
Raines tossed a complete game, retiring the Blue Devils 1-2-3 in the second, fifth and seventh stanzas.
He also saw the minimum three Blue Devils in the third, as a Dragon double play from first base to home tagged out John Stout.
Brumfield, the first of three GAHS pitchers, was charged with the loss —working the opening three and two-thirds innings.
He scattered five hits and allowed three earned runs, while walking two and striking out five.
Up until Fairland’s four-run four-hit fourth, the only baserunners Brumfield allowed were a Zach Crawford two-out single in the first — and a Raines two-out walk in the second.
He faced four Dragons apiece in the opening two innings, then retired the side 1-2-3 in the third.
But Fairland sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth, as Stout relieved Brumfield before allowing the Dragons’ point in the sixth.
Stout struck out four, before Kaden Thomas took over for the final two innings and fanned three.
Crawford singled twice for Fairland and was hit by a pitch, while Vonville also singled twice.
The Blue Devils combined a one-out error, a walk to Brumfield, an RBI-double by Brody Thomas, and a Davis RBI-sacrifice bunt for their three runs in the first.
Stout, Brumfield and Thomas scored, as Thomas scored Gallia Academy’s fourth run for the 4-4 tie.
He drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a fielder’s choice by Davis, then scored on Quinton Yarger’s RBI-single.
The Blue Devils are on the road — and return to OVC action — on Friday at Coal Grove.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106