THE PLAINS, Ohio — Early and often … and more than enough for starter Matthew Gilkey.
Meigs Post 39 led wire-to-wire and scored in all but one of its six innings at the plate on Tuesday night during an 11-1 thumping of host Athens Post 21 in an American Legion baseball contest held at Rannow Field at Athens High School.
Post 39 — which evened its season record to an even 9-9 overall — built leads of 2-0, 5-0 and 7-0 through each of the first three frames before tacking on another three scores in the top half of the fifth for a comfortable 10-run cushion.
Athens — which was held to just three hits through four complete — finally broke through in the bottom half of the fifth as a Niese double allowed Stephens to score for a 10-1 contest.
Andrew Dodson led off the top of the sixth with a solo homer to put the game back in mercy-rule status at 11-1, then Gilkey wrapped things up by striking out the side in the Post 21 half of the sixth.
Gilkey went the full six innings for the win, allowing only one earned run, five hits and three walks while striking out a dozen.
Gilkey also gave himself all of the run support he would need in the top of the first as his 2-out double plated both Dodson and Conner Ridenour for a quick 2-0 edge.
Lucas Finlaw lifted a sacrifice fly in the second that allowed Chase Barber to score, then Alex Pierce scored on a 2-out single by Coltin Parker for a 4-run advantage. Parker later came around on a Dodson double for a 5-0 lead.
A wild pitch allowed Barber to score in the third, then Reynolds came around on a Finlaw single that increased the lead out to 7-0.
Reynolds knocked in Bailey Jones with a single to start the fifth inning scoring, then Barber came home on a balk call. Reynolds later scored on a Parker single that made it 10-0 headed into the home half of the fifth.
Meigs outhit the hosts by a sizable 12-5 count and also committed only one of the five errors in the contest. Post 39 stranded only five runners on base, compared to seven by Athens.
Dodson led the guests with three hits and also scored a pair of runs and knocked in two RBIs.
Parker, Reynolds and Finlaw each added two safeties. Parker and Finlaw also drove in two RBIs apiece. Barber added a team-best three runs scored as well.
Welsh paced Post 21 with two hits and also took the loss after surrendering five runs, four hits and a walk over two innings while fanning four.
Meigs Post 39 returns to action on Thursday when it travels to Glouster to face Post 414 at Trimble High School. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.