CENTENARY, Ohio — By scoring four runs early, then escaping some stressful situations late, the Meigs Marauders managed to fend off the hard-charging Gallia Academy Blue Devils.
As a result, this time, the Marauders were on the right end of a 6-2 score.
That’s because Meigs, spearheaded by four first-inning markers, captured a 6-2 non-league baseball victory over the host Blue Devils on Thursday.
The Marauders made the Blue Devils pay for a pair of early errors, jumping out to a 4-0 lead —which held up until the fourth frame.
Gallia Academy then scored single runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth, but left the bases loaded in the fourth —followed by two runners in scoring position with one out in the fifth.
Meigs managed single runs itself in the top of the sixth and seventh, extending the four-run advantage again to 6-2, then once again stranding the bases full of Blue Devils.
With the tying run at the plate, Marauder relief pitcher K.J. Tracy tallied his final strikeout to end the game.
Thus, with the win, Meigs —two days after losing at Waterford 6-2 —raised its record to 3-1.
The Marauders opened the season with shutout victories over Southern (8-0) and Jackson (2-0).
Gallia Academy, conversely, suffered its first defeat to fall to 2-1.
Meigs, which outhit the Blue Devils 9-4, stranded 11 baserunners —but that was one fewer than the Blue Devils’ dozen.
Matt Gilkey and Tracy combined to pitch almost the same amount of time, and overcame four walks apiece.
“I’m really happy with Matt Gilkey and K.J. Tracy. This was their first pitching appearance this year, and both of them did a great job for us. We had a lot of opportunities to score runs, and I think the more games we play, the more we will be able to execute better,” said Meigs coach Brent Bissell. “I’m happy overall, because a win against a good program like Gallia Academy is a good win.”
That win was fueled by a fast start.
Against Gallia Academy starting pitcher Jeremy Brumfield, the Marauders combined a leadoff walk, two errors, a pair of fielder’s choices, and a pair of RBI-singles by Gilkey and Christian Mattox for their four runs.
Wesley Smith, Tyler Williams, Luke Musser and Mattox all scored, as Musser drove in Smith for the first point on a fielder’s choice.
The 4-0 advantage aided the freshman Gilkey, who only allowed three baserunners through the opening three frames.
Braden Simms in the first and Quinton Yarger in the third both walked, sandwiched around a second-stanza single by Cole Davis.
“Those four runs in the first (inning) were huge, especially with a freshman (Gilkey) on the mound. It helped to give him a little bit of a cushion,” said Bissell. “Then we just tell our kids to throw strikes and let the defense play. We were able to make most of the plays when they hit the ball. That’s all you can ask out of your pitchers and defense.”
Gilkey worked the opening three and one-third innings, striking out two batters in the third — while facing four Blue Devils apiece in each of those first three.
He allowed his only run in the fourth, when Gallia Academy’s John Stout scored after being hit by a pitch, stealing second and advancing to third on an error, then scoring on Josh Faro’s sacrifice fly.
Gilkey was relieved after hitting Brody Thomas with a pitch, then walking Davis and intentionally walking Adam Sickels.
Tracy came in — and retired the final two batters to escape the jam.
In the fifth, the Blue Devils sliced the deficit in half to 4-2 —when Simms walked, stole third, and scored on an error.
Stout then reached on an error and Faro singled, but Tracy got the final two outs again —including another strikeout.
Tracy tossed the final three and two-thirds, allowing only an earned run on three hits with three Ks.
His final strikeout came on the final at-bat —after Stout singled, Thomas reached on a fielder’s choice, and Davis walked to load the bases.
The Blue Devils’ only other hit was a Dylan Smith single in the sixth.
Gallia Academy’s approach of “small ball” never played much of a role on Thursday.
“We had a couple of errors in the first (inning) thanks to very poor defense. We spotted them four runs. Then we gave ourselves a chance, but we couldn’t get a big hit. We left the bases loaded twice,” said GAHS coach Rich Corvin. “One clutch hit turns this game around. We just didn’t get it tonight. And we were never in the situation where we could make our short game factor into the game.”
However, leadoff walks to the Marauders — by Gallia Academy reliever Kaden Thomas — resulted in their final two runs.
In the sixth, Michael Kesterson led off with a walk, then scored with two outs three batters later by Zach Helton.
In the seventh, Mattox drew a leadoff free pass, then crossed for the final run two batters later on an RBI-groundout by Isaiah Fish.
Mattox, Musser and Helton had two hits apiece for the Marauders, as Musser doubled in the fifth while Williams doubled in the second.
Briar Wolfe, with a single in the fifth, was the only other basehit for Meigs.
Thomas walked Tracy twice in the final two frames, as Stout recorded the final Marauder out in the seventh.
Brumfield pitched the first five innings for the Blue and White, as he was charged with the pitching loss.
He allowed three earned runs on eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
The Marauders, already without Cody Bartrum and Layne Acree with season-ending injuries, lost standout pitcher Chase Whitlatch with a shoulder injury in the sixth.
He left the game after being inserted as a pinch-runner, as his status was unknown immediately afterwards.
Both clubs have league tilts on Monday, when Meigs travels to Alexander for the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division opener, while Gallia Academy hosts South Point in Ohio Valley Conference action.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106