ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Early and often.
The Post 39 Rangers jumped out to a three-run lead after an inning of play and never looked back while picking up their ninth consecutive victory Wednesday night with a 9-1 decision over visiting Ripley in an American Legion baseball contest on the campus of Meigs High School.
The host Rangers (9-2) allowed baserunners in all but the fourth inning, but the Dirtbags ultimately never managed to cross home plate until the top half of the seventh.
Post 39, on the other hand, tacked on a run in the third for a 4-0 cushion, then needed only eight batters and two hits during a five-run fourth to all but seal the deal on the final outcome.
The Rangers, however, sent only seven batters to the plate over their final two frames and were never able to chalk up one final score for a mercy-rule decision.
Brody Jeffers knocked in Miles Williams with the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the first as a fielder’s choice allowed Williams to score from third for a 1-0 edge.
Jeffers and Carter Smith eventually scored on a Billy Harmon single to center, giving the hosts a three-run advantage just six outs into regulation.
Mason Hanning received a one-out walk to start the home half of the third, then moved to third on a two-out single from Williams. An error on the play also allowed Hanning to come home for a 4-0 lead through three complete.
Jeffers walked to start the bottom of the fourth, then Carter Smith singled and Harmon walked while loading the bases. Coltin Parker singled home Jeffers for a 5-0 edge, then Cooper Peters laid down a one-out bunt that ultimately brought both Carter Smith and Harmon home for a seven-run cushion.
Parker eventually scored by stealing home, then Wes Smith — who received a two-out walk — stole second and third before coming home on a passed ball for a 9-0 advantage.
An error and a two-out single led to Ripley’s only score in the top of the seventh.
Post 39 outhit the Dirtbags by an 8-4 overall margin and also committed two of the three errors in the contest. Ripley stranded 13 runners on base, while the hosts left only three on the bags.
Jeffers was the winning pitcher of record after allowing only one hit and two walks over two scoreless innings while striking out four. Jeffers was the first of five pitchers used by the Rangers.
Carter Smith paced Post 39 with two hits, followed by Williams, Harmon, Parker, Peters, Wes Smith and Joel Beattie with a safety apiece.
Harmon drove in a team-high two RBIs, while Carter Smith had a team-best two runs scored.
Post 39 returns to the diamond Sunday when it hosts Logan Post 78 at Meigs High School for a doubleheader affair starting at 2 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.