CENTENARY, Ohio — The kind of thrill ride that the Blue Angels would line up for again.
The Gallia Academy softball team rallied back from an early three-run deficit and ultimately took a permanent lead in the bottom of the sixth before eventually holding on for a hard-fought 10-9 victory over visiting Coal Grove in an Ohio Valley Conference matchup Monday night at the Eastman Athletic Complex in Gallia County.
The Blue Angels (8-11, 8-4 OVC) trailed 3-1 and 4-1 after each of the first two innings of play, but the hosts produced a trio of three-run outbursts over the four frames while building a 10-7 advantage headed into the seventh.
The Lady Hornets answered with a pair of runs in the top half of the frame and had runners at second and third with two away, but a 1-3 groundout ended the threat and allowed the Blue and White to salvage a season split in the head-to-head matchup.
The Red and Black posted a 10-2 victory in the first contest at CGHS back on April 18.
Rylee Harmon gave the guests a quick 3-0 cushion in the top of the first after blasting a three-run homer to left-center with one away.
GAHS countered with an Abby Hammons single with two away that allowed Bailie Young to score from second while closing the gap down to two runs.
Katie Deeds singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch that made it a 4-1 contest through two complete, but Gallia Academy answered with three runs in the home half of the third to knot things up.
Alex Barnes and Young led things off with back-to-back singles, then Chasity Adams dropped a bunt single down that allowed Barnes to come home for a 4-2 deficit.
Bailey Meadows followed by grounding out to third, which allowed Young to come home for a one-run contest. Hammons then grounded into a fielder’s choice that allowed Adams to come home for a four-all tie through three complete.
The Lady Hornets reclaimed the lead in the top of the fourth as Deeds scored on an error and Harmon singled home Kaleigh Murphy for a 6-4 edge.
GAHS, however, answered with three runs in the home half of the fourth as a passed ball and wild pitch brought home both Aubrey Unroe and Preslee Reed for a tie game. Hammons then delivered a two-out single that plated Young for a 7-6 edge.
Lauren Crum produced a two-out single in the sixth that plated Addi Dillow to tie the game at seven, but the hosts answered with three runs in the home half of the sixth for what proved to be a permanent advantage.
Barnes reached on an error and eventually scored the tying run on an error, then Meadows singled in Adams with one away for a 9-7 lead. Hammons followed with an RBI double that plated Meadows while increasing the advantage out to 10-7 through six complete.
Malone and Schwartz used a one-out single and a walk to reach base, then Malone scored on a wild pitch and Schwartz came in on an error that allowed Deeds to reach safely.
Dillow followed with a double that advanced Deeds to third with two away, but a ground ball back to pitcher Hunter Copley ultimately resulted in the final putout — wrapping up the one-run triumph.
Gallia Academy outhit the guests by a slim 11-10 overall margin and also committed four of the seven errors in the contest. CGHS stranded eight runners on base, while the hosts left six on the bags.
Copley was the winning pitcher of record after allowing five earned runs, 10 hits and four walks over seven innings while striking out four. Murphy took the loss after surrendering three runs (two earned) and three hits over two frames of relief while fanning three.
Hammons led the Blue Angels with three hits and four RBIs, followed by Barnes, Adams and Meadows with two safeties apiece. Young and Unroe also had a hit each in the victory, with Young also scoring a team-best three runs.
Dillow paced CGHS with three hits, followed by Harmon with two safeties and a team-best four RBIs. Deeds also had two hits and two runs scored in the setback.
Gallia Academy returns to action Wednesday when it travels to Fairland for an OVC contest at 5 p.m. The Blue Angels will also head to Chesapeake on Thursday for a 5 p.m. bout.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.