The Galion baseball team ended a six game slide with an 11-5 win at Buckeye Valley Wednesday night. Senior Matt Hardy picked up the complete game victory for the Tigers.
Hardy allowed three consecutive base hits and a run to open the game before settling down and recording the final three outs of the first inning. The senior right hander had a hiccup in the third inning as well when he gave up a pair of runs on three base hits and a hit batter.
Hardy got better as the game wore on cruising through the fifth and sixth innings. With an 11-4 lead heading into the final frame his appearance was questioned.
Galion head coach Phil Jackson said Hardy kept asking him if he was keep him pitching for the rest of the game.
“I said if you get the first guy out I’m going to leave you in the game,” Jackson said.
Hardy failed in keeping the lead runner off base, but Jackson stayed with the starter anyway.
“He’s a senior and pitch count wasn’t an issue, it was plenty warm and he was ready to go. He kept battling.”
Hardy allowed five runs in seven innings, on ten hits, one walk. He had five strike outs.
Galion broke the game wide open in the first three innings. The Tigers scored one in the first, four in the third and three in the fourth to take an 8-3 lead.
The bottom of the lineup was most effective for Galion. Will Donahue, Ethan Pig, Ryan Utz (Mitchell Dyer) and Tyler Castline, batting in the six through nine slots in the order, accounted for nine hits and nine runs scored.
Castline, who had been struggling, went four for four in the game, scored three times and drove in a run. Garrett Kuns and Mac Spears each drove in a pair of runs for the Tigers.
Jackson was pleased with the team’s effort in light of the early season swoon.
“Things are starting to click; we have the right work ethic,” he said. “It was frustrating early, because all the work didn’t seem to be paying off.”
The losing streak impacted the team in several ways according to Coach Jackson.
“A lot of the kids started with a couple of heartbreaking losses, were ahead early and gave the games away at the end,” he said. “A negative atmosphere –that feeling of ‘here we go again’ got in the dugout and it was tough to fight off.”
With Devin Baughn out with an injury, Galion has been forced to play out of position and must continue to improve defensively.
“We had fewer errors today than in the past,” said Jackson. “In some games we had six or seven errors, today they didn’t hurt us.”
With Jonathan Alder sitting atop the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division at 9-0, Galion’s chances of a division title appear dim. That does not deter Jackson.
“We have a lot to play for, including the tournament,” he said. “The great thing about baseball is that you have something to play for until the last game and that’s all we care about.”
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