GLEN DALE - Solid pitching and timely hitting.
It's a combination every baseball coach covets. And, if it happens early in the season, it can be a harbinger of good things to come.
No wonder Weirton Madonna coach Jeff Baire was all smiles after watching his team blank John Marshall, 8-0, Tuesday afternoon at Monarch Field.
Madonna’s Tory Fuscardo dives back to the bag as John Marshall first baseman Mitch Whorton awaits a throw Wednesday in Glen Dale.
''This is the second day in a row we've been able to get some timely hits,'' Baire said, referring to Monday's triumph against city rival Weir.
It was also the second game in a row Baire had his full squad. Madonna opened the season with a loss to Bishop Donahue last week minus five basketball players.
The Blue Dons (2-1) belted five of their seven hits between the fourth and sixth innings and scored all but one of its runs in the process.
''Hitting is contagious,'' Baire said
Meanwhile on the mound, Luca Fuscardo was doing his job. All told, the sophomore struck out 10 and walked three in tossing a three-hitter. He fanned the final four JM hitters, including the side in the seventh.
''For him to allow three hits was phenomenal,'' Baire said. ''But I think the thing that impressed me the most was able to hit his spots.''
The Monarchs collected two hits in the second inning and one in the fourth.
''We'll try to get better,'' veteran Monarchs coach Bob Montgomery said. ''But we have a lot of work to do.''
The Monarchs stand at 1-5, with its lone victory an 11-2 triumph against Magnolia last week. In John Marshall's five losses, it has been shut out twice and only scored eight runs.
''We've faced some pretty good pitchers,'' Montgomery said. ''Good pitching will beat good hitting any day.''
Tuesday was one of those days.
The Monarchs got their first two batters on in the second and the sixth with no outs. But on both occasions, the third batter of the inning lined out to first and the runner on first was tagged out trying to come back to the bag.
Other than that, Fuscardo was dominant.
Meanwhile, the Blue Dons offense gave Fuscardo plenty of support.
Leading 1-0 in the fourth, JM starter Todd Schmidt walked Dan Pietranton with two outs. Following a Will Bowser single, Nick Ossman ripped a double to center which scored Pietranton and Bowser to give the Blue Dons a 3-0 lead.
Next, freshman Kaleb Baire singled to plate Ossman and up the lead to 4-0.
Madonna scored three more times in the fifth.
Logan Linder slice a one-out single to left. Following a walk and a passed ball, Schmidt walked Connor Mogan to load the bases.
Pietranton hit a chopper to third and Linder was forced out at home. With the bases still loaded, Schmidt walked Bowser, bringing pinch runner Tory Fuscardo home for a 5-0 Madonna advantage.
The next batter - Ossman - hit a shot to short. The throw to first was high and Mogan and Pietranton scored to make the score 7-0.
Linder's solo homer in the sixth completed the scoring. He was the only Madonna player with two hits.
Schmidt paced the Monarchs with two of the team's three singles.