STEWART, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Rebels, it was a classic case of oh so close, yet oh so far away.
The winless South Gallia High School baseball team nearly knocked off host Federal Hocking on Tuesday, but some shaky sixth-inning defense doomed the young Rebels en route to a 7-5 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division loss.
In actually leading the Lancers 2-1 after two-and-a-half, and 5-4 entering the bottom of the fourth, South Gallia had its eye on ending its lengthy losing streak — both overall and in the TVC-Hocking.
But Federal Hocking forced the 5-5 tie in the fourth, then scored twice in the sixth when the Rebel defense committed two costly errors that could have had it out of the inning.
Trailing 7-5 in the seventh, the Rebels loaded the bases with two outs, but Lancer pitcher Chase Reed struck out Joey Woodall to end the game.
With the loss, South Gallia falls to 0-6 — both overall and in the league.
In fact, Tuesday’s tilt saw the Rebels score a season-high for runs in a game (five) — and equal their run total through their first five.
South Gallia had already lost to Wahama (24-0), Waterford (13-1), Eastern (25-2), Southern (17-0) and Belpre (13-2) by lopsided scores.
Another near-miss, or even better an elusive victory, might not come around again until the Lancers make the return trip in two weeks (Friday, April 29).
The win was Federal Hocking’s first in 11 games (1-10), and nine in the TVC-Hocking (1-8).
Both teams had seven hits, and South Gallia’s defense had only committed one error until the decisive sixth.
That’s when the Lancers pushed ahead, despite committing a whopping seven errors until then.
As Rebel pitcher Kyler Mills worked a solid six innings, his defense didn’t do him any favors late.
In the sixth, Federal Hocking’s Matthew Bobo reached on a leadoff error, as Deakin Dickerson — with the Lancers employing a hit-and-run situation — lifted a ball into right field that could have resulted in a double play.
But the ball was dropped, allowing Bobo and Dickerson to reach second and third.
Bobo scored on Randall Torrence’s groundout for the 6-5 lead, and Dickerson sprinted home on a wild pitch to make it 7-5.
Torrence went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, as all three RBIs came against two-strike counts.
Mills, Brandon Rutt and Colten Bowers walked to load the bases for the Rebels in the seventh, but on Reed’s 119th pitch in going the complete game — he recorded the game-inning strikeout.
Reed struck out nine Rebels, offsetting seven hits and five walks.
Mills matched Reed by striking out seven and only walking one in going the distance.
Reed helped himself by going 2-for-3 and being hit by a Mills pitch.
Colton Coughenour was 3-for-4 to pace South Gallia, as Johnny Sheets was 2-for-4 and Mills 1-for-3 with a third-inning RBI-double.
That put the Rebels up 2-1, as Devon Maxey’s first-inning RBI-single for Federal Hocking marked the game’s initial point.
Torrence’s two RBI-singles tied the game twice — at 2-2 in the third and finally 5-5 in the fourth.
Izak Luther also had a hit and a walk for the Rebels, as Austin Stapleton’s RBI-groundout gave South Gallia its final lead at 5-4.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106