NEW MARTINSVILLE - Nearly every time Magnolia's Ryan Walton swung the bat Friday night at the George S. Mullett Sports Complex, he put a real hurting on the baseball and Fort Frye.
The hard-hitting sophomore outfielder was robbed of an extra-base hit during his first appearance at the plate but he then ripped three straight singles and finished off a 13-3 victory for the Blue Eagles by walking with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Walton's three knocks highlighted a 13-hit attack for Magnolia as Coach Dave Cisar's club improved its record to 4-2. Chandler Sapp, who picked up a victory in relief of starter Zack Wilhoite, doubled and drive in two runs, as did Wilhoite while another sophomore, Grant Cain, had two singles and one RBI for the winners.
''Right now, Ryan Walton is playing very, very well," Cisar said after his team overcame an early 2-0 deficit. ''He hustles, plays great defense and makes contact every time. We are real happy with him.''
The game didn't start out very well for Magnolia in Cisar's eyes as an error and a couple of baserunning snafus put the hosts behind. The usually reliable Kyle Elliott, the Blue Eagles' pitching and hitting standout in Thursday night's road victory against Wheeling Central, booted a ground ball at shortstop with one out in the top of the third of a scoreless game.
Fort Frye (2-4) took advantage of the miscue and a walk to Anthony Duskey to score a pair of runs. Chandler Lang knocked in the first with his single to right, while Zac Eddy was credited with a sacrifice fly on a ball he launched into deep center that was hauled down by the backpedalling Walton.
The Blue Eagles' first opportunity to get on the scoreboard ended after a mistake on the basepaths as Tanner Hanna lined into an infield double play in the second inning. In the fourth, Bentley Knight was picked off second base for the first out but eight of the first nine Magnolia batters eventually reached base during a seven-run uprising that salted the game away.
''We came out a little bit flat after (Thursday's) nice win,'' Cisar said. ''I don't know whether it is our inexperience or our youth or because we haven't played a whole lot of games yet. We made two or three lazy, bad plays which should not happen with the kind of program we think we have at Magnolia High School.
''To be successful, we have to make the routine plays all the time, and we did after a while.''
Magnolia wasted little time jumping into the lead after Fort Frye gained its early edge.
Brantley Hissom, the No. 9 hitter, walked to start the bottom of the third. Walton followed with a line smash to left for the first of his three straight singles. Sapp then hit the next pitch down the right-field line for the two-run double, tying the score at 2-2. Elliott stepped up next and quickly atoned for his miscue in the field with a long blast over the head of Cadets center fielder Spencer Lang for an RBI double that put Magnolia in front to stay. Another run scored in the inning after Wilhoite's fly to left was dropped for a two-base error.
Sapp took over on the mound for Wilhoite in the top of the fourth and pitched around Fort Frye designated hitter Zach Kohl's leadoff double. After Sapp struck out the next batter, he benefited from some fielding help when Hissom raced in from right field and reached below his knees to take away Drew Layton's bid for an RBI base hit. An infield roller then retired the side with Magnolia's two-run lead still intact.
Although the pickoff at second base nearly ruined the Blue Eagles' rally before it started in the bottom of the fourth, they broke the game open with five straight hits, all singles by Knight, Cain, Jake Starkey, Hissom and Walton. The singles from Hissom and Walton drove in runs.
Bradley Martin, who replaced Duskey on the hill starting the frame, then hit the next two batters, with Elliott picking up an RBI when a pitch glanced off his arm. Wilhoite's sacrifice fly made it 8-4, then Hanna doubled in a run and two other Blue Eagles crossed the plate after an error and Cain's single to left, his second hit of the inning.
Two walks and an error got Fort Frye within 11-3 after the top of the fifth but Magnolia got that one back on Elliott's sacrifice fly in the home half of the frame. The Blue Eagles then ended it an inning later when Walton worked a walk with the bases jammed.
''Sapp came in and did a nice job pitching the last three innings,'' Cisar said. ''He threw the ball over the plate and worked quickly.''
The Magnolia junior pitched around two walks and the one hit he surrendered, notching five strikeouts, including whiffs of all three batters he faced in the top of the sixth.
''Our first pitcher did a nice job early but they kind of timed him up the next time through the lineup and I decided to go with two younger pitchers and that didn't work out very well," Fort Frye coach Sonny Bidwell said. ''We also had some errors in the field and did a bad job of hitting. When you do those things, you're not going to compete very well against a team like Magnolia.''