CENTENARY, Ohio — The Blue Angels almost pulled off the most incredible of comebacks.
Unfortunately for the Gallia Academy High School softball squad, ‘almost’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
From the brink of being mercy-ruled to almost storming ahead in a matter of two at-bats, the Blue Angels — in the end — — ended up losing a 14-13 slugfest on Thursday to the visiting Ironton Fighting Tigers in an Ohio Valley Conference tilt.
Indeed, after Ironton amounted at least one run in every inning except the sixth — and ultimately led 13-3 in the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Angels appeared set to surrender their first mercy-rule loss of the season.
However, they remained alive for the sixth inning by posting their second three-run frame — then amazingly erupted for seven runs on eight hits in the sixth to force the stunning 13-13 tie.
But, as Newfound Glory once sang, it’s all downhill from here.
In the top of the seventh, Aley Carmon crossed the plate for the Fighting Tigers —after singling with one out and advancing around before stealing home.
The Blue Angels, which never led on Thursday, attempted one last rally in the bottom half — and had its top of the order due up.
But Ironton relief pitcher Peighton Rowe retired the Blue Angels 1-2-3 —striking out Hunter Copley, inducing Alex Barnes into a flyout to centerfield on a diving catch, and getting top hitter Jenna Meadows to pop out right back to her to end the game.
For the Fighting Tigers, which raised their record to 7-3 and 4-2 in the OVC, they completed the season sweep of Gallia Academy.
Ironton, on Monday, gave Gallia Academy its initial league loss by defeating the Blue and White 9-5.
The Blue Angels, entering Thursday’s rematch, were tied atop the OVC with Coal Grove —whom they play on Monday and Tuesday of this week (April 24 and 25).
But the loss against Ironton left them at 8-4 — and at now 6-2 in the conference.
The Fighting Tigers tallied a dozen runs, eight of which were earned, on 19 hits and two walks off GAHS pitcher Copley.
Copley, battling a hip injury and who exited the circle after only two innings at Ironton, did go the distance this time —but only struck out two.
Both clubs committed four errors, as Ironton scored single runs in the second and fourth frames — before the go-ahead marker in the seventh.
Three straight singles off Copley in the first, including a two-run single by Ruth Paholsky, made it 2-0 Ironton.
Paholsky had a two-run double in the third, highlighting a four-run six-hit bonanza that pushed the Tigers’ lead to 7-0.
The Blue Angels earned three points back on four hits in the third, but Paholsky’s RBI-single in the fourth made it 8-3.
In the fifth, Ironton exploded for five runs on three hits, as Carmon — who along with Rowe led the Fighting Tigers with four hits — clubbed a bases-clearing double to make it 12-3.
Paholsky picked up her sixth and final RBI on an error, making it 13-3 and putting the mercy-rule into effect.
Carmon and Kenzie Cremeens crossed the plate four times apiece, as Rowe recorded four RBIs —including her two-run single in the third to make it 7-0.
Cremeens joined Paholsky with three hits.
But Meadows spearheaded the Blue Angel comeback bid, as —after Barnes’ RBI-single —she doubled in Copley and Barnes to make it 13-6 following five.
In the seven-run eight-hit outburst in the sixth — all off of Rowe — Meadows mustered a two-run single, as Carly Shriver added an RBI-double.
Meadows finished with five runs batted in, as she, Copley, Barnes and Kimberly Edelmann amassed three hits apiece.
Barnes and Edelmann managed a pair of RBIs, as Bailey Meadows with a sixth-inning double and Allie Clagg with a sixth-inning run-scoring single rounded out the 15 GAHS hits.
Rowe relieved Ironton starter Mary Beth Burton, who gave up five earned runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four.
Gallia Academy is home against the Hornets on Monday, before traveling Tuesday to Coal Grove for a makeup tilt.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106