CENTENARY, Ohio — One big inning made all the difference.
The Gallia Academy baseball team scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth en route to handing visiting River Valley its first loss of the season Tuesday night during a 9-3 non-conference decision between Gallia County programs at Bob Eastman Ball Field.
The Blue Devils (1-1) notched their first victory of the 2016 campaign, but the hosts had to do so in a come-from-behind fashion as the Raiders (3-1) stormed out to a 2-0 advantage through one inning of play.
GAHS cut its deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the second, and the score remained that way until the fireworks went off in the fourth.
The Blue and White sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom half of that frame, which resulted in six runs on six hits and two walks — giving the hosts a comfortable 7-2 cushion through four complete.
RVHS responded with a score in the fifth to close to within 7-3, but the Blue Devils tacked on two runs in their half of the fifth to wrap up the six-run triumph.
Gallia Academy outhit the guests by a 9-4 overall margin, with two-thirds of those safeties coming in that pivotal fourth frame.
Afterwards, GAHS coach Rich Corvin noted how much River Valley has improved in the last calendar year. He also noted that this his troops did a good job of executing the game plan during their big mid-game rally.
“We knew they were coming in on a little bit of a roll, even going back to last year. They had a nice little run last year in the tournament too, so we knew they had some confidence and momentum,” Corvin said. “It took us a little while to get going, but we were able to do a lot of little things well there in the fourth. That’s what we’re going to have to do offensively, go out and make things happen by putting pressure on our opponents to make defensive plays.”
Trailing 2-1, Anthony Sipple started the fourth with a triple and later scored on a single by Eric Ward. Ward advanced to second on a passed ball and moved up to third on a Marcus Moore sacrifice, then scored the eventual game-winning run on a Dillon Ragan wild pitch.
Ryan Terry singled and Braden Simms walked, then Terry scored on a successful squeeze bunt by John Stout to make it a 4-2 contest. Wyatt Sipple walked to loaded the bases, then Kole Carter delivered a single that plated Simms for a 5-2 lead.
Matt Bailey followed with a double to left-center field that allowed both Stout and Sipple to cross home plate, making it a 7-2 contest through four full frames.
River Valley — after whittling the lead down to 7-3 — committed both of its errors in the bottom half of the fifth, which allowed GAHS to score twice and increase the lead to 9-3.
It was a tough night for the Raiders and RVHS skipper Bobby Jeffers, but the fifth-year mentor quickly noted that one bad night does not make an entire season … especially after less than a week in.
“It’s definitely not the outcome we were hoping for, but we are sitting at 3-1 through four games. That’s as good a start that we’ve had here in some time,” Jeffers said. “We need to shrug this one off and get back to doing what’s worked for us so far. There are still a lot of baseball games left to be played.”
River Valley’s 2-0 lead in the first inning was also a result of zero hits and five consecutive walks, all of which came with two outs in the frame.
The guests stranded eight runners on base, while GAHS left six on the bags. The hosts also committed one of the three errors in the game.
Carter was the winning pitcher of record after allowing three earned runs, one hit and eight walks over 4.2 innings while striking out six. Jeremy Brumfield worked the final 2.1 innings of relief, allowing only three hits for the victors.
Dillon Ragan surrendered seven earned runs, seven hits and three walks over 3.1 frames while fanning two in the losing decision. Austin Ragan allowed two runs (one earned), two hits and two walks over 2.2 innings while striking out two.
Terry paced GAHS with three hits, followed by Anthony Sipple with two safeties. Carter, Bailey, Ward and Stout also added a hit apiece in the triumph. Bailey drove in a team-high two RBIs and Terry scored a team-best three runs.
Dillon Ragan, Jamie Bainter, Devin McDonald and Bailey Rhodes each had a hit for RVHS. Bainter, McDonald and Austin Ragan each scored a run, while Rhodes led the guests with two RBIs.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.