WHEELING - Magnolia junior pitcher Kyle Elliott did about everything Coach Dave Cisar could have asked of him during Thursday night's game against Wheeling Central at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.
Elliott pitched the full seven innings without walking a batter, striking out nine and, oh yes, he also contributed offensively with two RBI. Elliott singled home the Blue Eagles' first run and his sacrifice fly to deep center in the seventh provided a needed insurance run in a 4-2 victory.
''Kyle was sharp all night," Cisar siaid. ''Central is a good-hitting team and they hit the ball real hard at times. For having only one senior on the field, we are just real happy to come up here and beat a quality program and play real well doing it."
Both sides had to be pleased with the performances of their pitchers on a cold night. While Elliott surrendered eight hits and made some quality pitches to work out of several jams, the Maroon Knights' Patrick Biega also turned in a good outing.
Central's senior righty allowed six hits, two being of the scratch variety, while walking five and picking up three strikeouts.
''Our pitching has been solid and I was very happy with Patrick," said Jimbo Wodusky, coach of the defending West Virginia Class A state champions. ''He got into a couple of tough spots but fought through them. Magnolia's going to get their hits and they are going to field the ball well. Coach Cisar also knows how to manufacture runs."
Despite out-hitting the visitors, Wodusky isn't pleased with his team's lack of run production.
''We're not very good offensively right now," he said. ''We have about three or four solid hitters, and we won't win with the schedule we play if everyone isn't hitting. Guys really need to step it up."
Magnolia (3-2) turned two hits, a walk and an error on a pickoff attempt into a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Ryan Walton, the Blue Eagles' leadoff hitter, got things started with a single into left field. After Chandler Sapp walked on a 3-2 pitch, Elliott gave himself a 1-0 lead with a sharp single through the box into centerfield.
With one out, Biega attempted to pick Sapp off second base but threw the ball into center for an error. Tanner Hanna's ground ball to Brandon Gast for an out produced the second run.
The Blue Eagles made it a 3-0 game in the third inning. Chandler Sapp singled, Zack Willhoite reached on an error and Bentley Knight drew a walk to load the bases with two out. Catcher Grant Cain singled into center, scoring one run but Mick Keys strong throw to the plate cut down Knight as Derek Yocke applied a tag to retire the side.
Magnolia's other run came in the top of the seventh and extending the lead to 4-1. Two walks sandwiched around Walton's second single preceded Elliott's sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Elliott pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first inning by recording the first of his nine strikeouts. A well-executed 1-6-3 double play started when Elliott fielded Nate Bakaitos' hard bouncer to the mound ended the second frame.
Keys and Anthony Tighe singled with one out in the third but Biega's grounder to first base advanced both runners before another strikeout snuffed out that rally.
Central (2-2) finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth as Biega singled and was replaced by courtesy runner C.J. Burch who stole second, took third on Yocke's grounder out and scored on Michael Tighe bouncer to the right side of the infield.
Bakaitos singled to start the seventh and moved up on a wild pitch. He came all the way around to score as the Blue Eagles were charged with their only error on a low throw to first base.
Elliott worked out of the jam again, getting the second out on another infield roller and the game's final out with still another strikeout.
''This was a real good high school game and I thought we played with a lot of emotion," Cisar noted. ''This was a good win but championships aren't won in March. We have a long way to go and we have to keep getting better every day.''