ALBANY — Jeremiah Clark delivered the biggest base hit of the season for the Alexander Spartans, shaking up the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division standings in the process.
Clark’s walk-off single completed Alexander’s upset win over the Athens Bulldogs, 4-3, on Friday at Alexander High School.
Athens entered the day needing wins in its final two league games to secure no worse than a share of another league championship.
Alexander successfully played the role of spoiler with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, dropping the Bulldogs a game in the loss column behind Meigs in the TVC-Ohio standings.
Athens (12-6 overall) falls to 9-2 in the TVC-Ohio while Alexander (4-12 overall) improves to 2-9 in league play.
The loss also ended a four-game losing streak for the Spartans.
The two county rivals were tied at 2-2 going to the top of the seventh inning, and it appeared the Bulldogs would escape Albany with a victory after scoring to go ahead.
Will Ginder hit a one-out single, but Alexander’s Jacob Phillips got the second out.
The Bulldogs were patient at the plate. Levi Parsons and Landon Wheatley drew walks to load the bases.
The Spartans made a pitching change, bringing in Cam Bayha.
Shane McDade drew a walk on a full-count, bringing home Ginder for a 3-2 lead.
Bayha retired Charlie Strohm on a fly ball to center field to end the inning, stranding three runners.
Will Matters came back on the mound to try and complete the game for the Bulldogs.
Matters got the first out, but Jace Ervin reached on an error. Bayha and Drew Harris followed with singles, Harris’ allowing Ervin to score to tie the game at 3-3.
Phillips followed with a walk to load the bases, but Matters recorded a second out when he got Preston Truax to hit into a fielder’s choice, as Bayha was forced out at home plate.
That brought Clark — Alexander’s No. 8 hole hitter — to the plate. He took a ball, then hit a 1-0 pitch to center for a single.
Harris scored from third base, and the wild celebration followed on the field for the Spartans.
Not only was it the Spartans’ biggest win of the season, it was their first victory over Athens since Lukas Thompson pitched Alexander to a 2-0 home win on April 8, 2016.
Athens had won eight in a row in the series before Friday’s upset.
Bayha ended up the winning pitcher after the seventh-inning rally.
Each starting pitcher finished with 6 2-3 innings. Phillips gave up three earned runs on nine hits, three walks and seven strikeouts for Alexander.
Matters only gave up one earned run in the defeat, walking four and striking out eight. Alexander had eight hits, seven being singles.
Athens scored in the top of the first inning on Cameron Niese’s RBI double, scoring Derrick Welsh.
The Bulldogs went ahead 2-0 in the third. Matters led the inning off with a walk, later scoring on Niese’s two-out single to right.
The Spartans tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third. John Hobbs led the frame off with a double, scoring on Ervin’s one-out single. Ervin later scored on Phillips’ two-out single to center.
Ginder was 3 for 4 for Athens, while Niese was 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Strohm was also 2 for 4, while McDade and Jake Goldsberry each hit singles.
Ervin was 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI for Alexander. Hobbs hit a double, scoring a run. Bayha, Harris and Phillips had singles, with Clark’s RBI single winning the day.