Spartans top Raiders with walk-off win

By Paul Boggs -

ALBANY, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Raiders, it’s apparently still hunting season.

As in the River Valley High School baseball team is still in search of its first conference victory — along with its second consecutive win.

That’s because, on Thursday in a makeup matchup at Alexander High School, the Raiders fell in eight innings in walkoff fashion —losing 8-7 to the Alexander Spartans in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division tilt.

Thus, River Valley fell to 3-8 —as the loss comes only two days after the Silver and Black snapped a seven-game losing streak.

Following the opening half of league play, the Raiders are now 0-6.

The young Spartans improved to 2-7 — and to 2-5 in the TVC-Ohio.

The Spartans scored the game-winner in the eighth off River Valley relief pitcher Devin McDonald —as Mason Hanning came home on a groundball error.

Hanning had singled to lead off, then Austin McClain sacrifice bunted him over to second.

With two outs, Conner Wingett put the ball in play to shortstop, but the Raiders couldn’t make the defensive play — and Hanning made it home for the win.

McDonald pitched the final two and two-thirds innings for River Valley, as he allowed two hits and a walk while striking out one.

Austin Ragan worked the opening three frames for the Raiders, as he was relieved by Jack Farley for the next two and one-thirds.

Both Ragan and Farley struck out three Spartans apiece, as Alexander’s Andy Merckle muscled the final six and one-thirds for the pitching victory.

Ben Wolfe was roughed up by the Raiders in his two and two-thirds, as McDonald scored a single run in the second —followed by an 11-batter, seven-run effort in the third.

But Merckle shut out the Raiders for the final five frames, retiring the side 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth — before facing four Raiders apiece in the sixth and eighth.

Merckle stranded the bases loaded in the third, before escaping a jam with runners at first and second in the seventh.

River Valley amounted eight hits, as Ragan, Farley and Brycen Brumfield had two apiece —including a double by Brumfield as part of the third-inning barrage.

Wyatt Halfhill singled in McDonald for the Raiders’ run in the second, as McDonald — who singled to lead off the seventh — led off with a walk.

Halfhill had reached on a dropped third strike in the seventh, but Merckle —who singled and doubled for the Spartans —induced Ian Polcyn into a flyout to end the inning.

Chace Harris and Jordan Colburn crossed the plate twice for Alexander, as Harris had a double and Colburn a triple.

The Spartans scored three runs in their opening at-bat, then tied the game at 7-7 with two runs apiece in the third and fourth.

River Valley returns home, and returns to Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division action, on Monday with Wellston.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

By Paul Boggs