Blue Devils win sectional title

By Scott Jones -

MARIETTA, Ohio — It was a long night for the Blue Devils.

The Gallia Academy baseball team fought through extra innings on Thursday — as a costly error by host Marietta proved the difference — as the Blue and White earned a 5-4 win over the third-seeded Tigers in a Division II sectional final in Washington County.

The Blue Devils (12-11) leaped to a 1-0 advantage in the first, as Wyatt Sipple reached on an error to start the inning and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Braden Simms.

Marietta countered in the bottom of the first, as Kail Hill led off the frame with a single and scored on a two-out single by Jarrett Jackson to knot the game at 1-all.

GAHS grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second, as Andrew Toler reached on a fielding miscue by the hosts and was driven home by a two-out RBI single by Sipple.

The Tigers tied the game at 2-2 in the third, when Brady Vincent led of the inning with a single and scored on a run producing single by Derek Duckworth with two outs.

The Blue and White pulled ahead in the fifth, when Dakota Young doubled to start the inning and Sipple followed with a double to put GAHS ahead 3-2.

Marietta evened the score in the bottom of the fifth, as three-consecutive errors by Gallia Academy allowed Corbin Alkire — who led off the inning with a single — to tie the contest at 3-all.

Both teams were held scoreless through the sixth and seventh innings, each manufacturing just one hit apiece, respectively, over that span.

The Blue Devils took a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth, as a lead off double by Simms set the stage for Toler to provide a go-ahead two-out RBI single.

The Tigers rallied in the bottom of the eighth, when Dakota Miller tied the game at 4-4 with a two-out RBI double. Marietta however stranded Miller in scoring position, as GAHS escaped the inning following an intentional walk to Hill and a fly-out by Vincent to end the inning.

Gallia Academy took a 5-4 advantage in the ninth, when Cole Davis led off with a hit by pitch and scored on an error by Marietta with one out in the inning.

The Tigers put the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth, as Jackson was hit by a pitch and reached with one-out, but Gallia Academy retired Duckworth and Hill to close out the one-run victory.

The Blue Devils win served as their first sectional championship since 2014.

Davis was the winning pitcher of record for GAHS, as he provided 1⅔ innings of relief and surrendered one run on three hits, while walking three hitters. Davis also scored one run on the offensive side.

Josh Faro started on the mound, allowing three runs, six hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts in 6⅔ innings of work.

Simms was credited with a save, as he provided two-thirds of an inning of relief, allowing no runs, no hits, with one strikeout.

Sipple led the way for the Blue and White and the plate with two hits, two RBI and one run scored.

Simms and Toler each finished with one safety, one RBI and one run score apiece, respectively.

Young provided one hit and scored once, while Faro and Matt Moreaux each finished with one safety apiece, respectively, to conclude the offensive totals for the Blue Devils.

Duckworth took the loss for the Tigers, allowing two runs on three hits, with one walk and one strikeout in four innings of relief. Alkire started the contest and lasted five innings on the mound, surrendering three runs, four hits, one walk, with five strikeouts.

Jackson led the way for the hosts with two hits, while Hill, Vincent, Alkire, Miller, Duckworth, Devon Moss and Justin Thompson each provided one safety apiece, respectively.

GAHS committed three fielding miscues in the contest, while Marietta had five errors.

The Blue Devils return to action on Monday as they travel to face seventh-seeded Hillsboro in a Division II district semifinal contest at Athens High School at 7 p.m.

By Scott Jones

Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.

Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.