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Bishops Make It Back-to Back Titles

April 28, 2012
By TRACY WATSON For The Intelligencer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BROOKSIDE - There were plenty of mistakes to go around Friday as West Virginia Class A sectional rivals Bishop Donahue and Weirton Madonna waged battle for the OVAC small-school championship.

Fortunately for coach Bob Kleeh, it was his Bishops that were able to make the most of their opportunities in recording a second consecutive Class A title.

Bishop Donahue pushed across five unearned runs, including a pair in the bottom of the sixth that made the difference as the Bishops held off the Blue Dons by a 6-4 margin at sunny, but cool Niekro Field.

Article Photos

Bishop Donahue players and coaches celebrate after recording the final out to win their second straight OVAC Class 1A championship.

It was a game that featured 12 hits, half as many errors and a pair of pitchers that both went the distance, either of which could have easily recorded a victory.

Hunter Kaschke did pick up a victory, fanning three and walking one. The sophomore dandy threw 82 pitches, 50 for strikes, but did hit four batters. Amazingly, he plunked three leading off innings, none of which scored.

''Hunter pitched a heckuva game,'' Kleeh said with a smile. ''I told him just to focus and do his thing. I think he was a little excited and anxious early on, but he got settled in.

''The great thing about him is that I think if I gave him a 15-minute break he would come back and want to throw seven more innings. He is just such a great kid.

''I am just so proud of all of these kids. It is definitely something to defend a title, but at the same time I just want them to keep their feet on the ground and stay humble.''

Meanwhile, Logan Linder was the hard-luck loser, having four errors committed behind him while throwing 92 pitches, 67 for strikes. Linder fanned nine and walked one.

Madonna took the lead in the top of the first, but a baserunning miscue put the halts to what may have been a bigger inning. After Ross Comis reached on a one-out fielder's choice and Linder walked, Connor Mogan brought home the first run with a double to deep left-center.

But on a grounder back to the mound on the next batter, Linder was caught in a rundown between third and home. He was tagged out and the runner at first was also thrown out to end the threat and keep the count at 1-0.

Donahue managed to get its first lead in the bottom of the frame, thanks in large part to a pair of Blue Dons errors. Garrett Yurisko reached on an error and went to second on Kyle Gillis' base hit past third.

Phillip Smith reached on a fielder's choice, with Yurisko crossing the dish to make it 1-1 on a throwing error. Kaschke aided his own cause with a run-scoring double to left-center that put the Bishops up by a 2-1 margin.

Donahue received another gift in the second with Ollie Parker reaching on a leadoff error, advancing to third on a pair of passed balls and making it a 3-1 score when Yurisko beat out an infield single to deep short for an RBI.

It was a reversal of forutne in the top of the third as Madonna took advantage of Bishops mistakes to knot the score at 3-3. After getting two quick outs on six pitches, Kaschke hit his third batter in as many innings, this time costing him a run.

Linder followed with a run-scoring double into the left-center field gap, and came around to score when Mogan reached on an error.

Another manufactured run put the Bishops back on top in the fourth. Parker singled leading off, went to second on a wild pitch and third on DT Meeker's sacrifice bunt. Parker then slid in safely on a wild pitch for a 4-3 reading.

After a rousing pre-at-bat message from coach Jeff Baire, Nick Battista made it a 4-4 score with one swing of the bat, sending a shot over the left-field fence.

Things, however, changed drastically in the bottom of the sixth. Kaschke, Alex Riedel and Parker all singled to load the bases with no outs before Linder set down the next two.

However, Yurisko's hot-shot to second managed to get through the second baseman and roll into right field allowing what turned out to be the eventual game-winning runs to score.

''Fielding has been our biggest problem our last three or four losses,'' a disappointed Baire said afterward. ''We can be a very good baseball team, but when we don't field the ball we are mediocre at best, and that is what we are right now.

''I don't care who you are playing, you cannot give a team seven or eight chances to score runs and expect them not to score. And the worst part, is that most of them are just routine plays. All I want is for the kids to field the ball and make throws.

''But the bottom line is that it all falls on my shoulders as the coach, and I can promise you that we will work on correcting it. This is a funny game and I tell the kids that baseball is based on failing and how you deal with it, that is what determines how good you are. And right now we are not dealing with it very well.''

While Kleeh was very happy, he also knows that there is still a lot of baseball to be played.

''My kids battled (Friday) and I am just so proud of them. That is one heckuva baseball team we beat, but we will see them and Wheeling Central again in the sectional and we have to stay focused and ready to play.

''It is nice to say that we have won two straight OVAC titles, but we have not been successful in our sectional in an awful lot of years and that is still ahead of us, and we will need to beat two very good teams.''

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