Gagai#8217;s first day of work helps Ironton win opener

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

COAL GROVE — Dennis Gagai didn’t expect to play. The Coal Grove Hornets probably wished he hadn’t.

With basktball season ending only a week ago, Gagai hadn’t played since last season. When he arrived for Monday’s season opener, Gagai fully expected to be sitting.

Instead, he started at first base and went 3-for-4 with a key triple and two runs scored as the Ironton Fighting Tigers rallied late to beat the Hornets 6-2.

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“I didn’t even think I’d play. I haven’t even picked up a bat. I just saw the ball well and made contact,” Gagai said.

Ironton coach Mark Lewis said more than half the lineup was comprised of basketball players and the rust was apparent.

“We not only looked like it was our first game, we looked like a bunch of guys who had only two or three practices,” Lewis said. “But we battled and did a some good things. We did some bad things, but we’ll correct those as we go.”

Coal Grove starter Randy Wise pitched well for nearly seven innings but fell victim to six errors and some timely Ironton hitting. He also went 2-4 at the plate.

The Hornets scored first with a run in the fourth inning on a double by Zach Murphy, an error and a base hit by Taylor Dean.

Ironton tied the game in the fifth with an unearned run. Darius Lewis was hit by a pitch and went to second a bad pickoff throw. Chris Rakes sacrifice bunt was thrown away at first base and Lewis came around to score.

Coal Grove regained the lead in the bottom of the inning when Wise doubled, stole third and came home on a wild pitch.

In the sixth, Ironton scored twice to take the lead for good.

Gagai singled and T.J. Keith was when the throw to second base was juggled on an attempted force play. The runners moved up on a wild pitch and Gagai scored on a passed ball. Seth Kuehne hit a sacrifice fly for the lead.

In the seventh inning, Rakes doubled, Troy Allen was safe on an error and Chad Miller hit a sacrifice fly.

Dustin Preston, who went 2-4, was safe on a force play and Gagai followed with an RBI triple. Gagai scored on a passed ball.


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Chris Rakes, Chad Miller (6) and Tanner Reed. Randy Wise, Bryan Bryant (7) and Tyler Branch. W-Rakes (2-K, 3-BB, 2-ER). Save-Miller (3-K). L-Wise (2-ER, 7-H, 6-K, 1-BB). HBP-by Wise (Darius Lewis). SB-Ironton: Chad Miller, Dustin Preston; Coal Grove: Bryan Bryant, Randy Wise. 2B-Ironton: Chris Rakes; Coal Grove: Zach Murphy, Randy Wise. 3B-Ironton: Dennis Gagai. SF-Ironton: Seth Kuehne, Chad Miller. Hitting-Ironton: Chris Rakes 1-2, Troy Allens 1-4, Dustin Preston 2-4, Dennis Gagai 3-4; Coal Grove: Randy Wise 2-4, Bryan Bryant 1-4, Zach Murphy 1-3, Taylor Dean 1-2.