CHARLESTON - The Madonna baseball team is the West Virginia Class A state champion for the second time in three years.
Sophomore Will Bowser hit a one-out, bases-loaded single down the right-field line to give the Blue Dons a 5-4 victory against East Hardy in eight innings Sunday night at Appalachian Power Park.
''I was looking for anything I could get to the outfield,'' Bowser said. ''I had a little bit of nerves, bit I knew as long as I made solid contact it would get out there.''
Madonna players and coaches celebrate their 5-4,
extra-innings victory against East Hardy on Sunday night at the West Virginia Class A high school aseball state tournament in Charleston.
Connor Mogan, the winning pitcher, started the bottom of the eighth inning with an infield single up the middle and moved to second when the throw went into Madonna's dugout. Chris Duerr reached on an infield single and one out later, Tory Fuscardo, the starting pitcher, walked to load the sacks.
In stepped Bowser.
''He was the perfect guy to have up right there because he has been killing the ball,'' Blue Dons coach Jeff Baire said. ''We had all the confidence right there in him.''
Watching the game-winner from the on-deck circle was senior Daniel Pietranton.
''I wish it was me up there, but we had all the confidence in the world in Will,'' Pietranton said. ''We've always been a close group of guys, but when you are playing with a bunch of guys who you generally like and like to be around, when you get on the field, nothing really bothers you.
''And, we've just been on-spot lately.''
Fuscardo worked 5.2 innings and was replaced by Tory Fuscardo, who struck out the final batter of East Hardy's three-run sixth inning that tied the score at 4-4, and then gave up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh.
Baire brought in Mogan to take the mound.
He promptly struck out the next three batters and, after Tyler Mongold singled to start the eighth, Mogan then sat down the next three with Ks.
''I just felt really comfortable,'' Mogan said. ''All the guys behind me make every play. I give all the credit to them. All I had to do was go in there and throw some strikes.
''I'm usually not a strikeout pitcher, so this is a bit of a change.''
The Blue Dons scored two in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
Nick Battista started the inning with a single and after two batters failed to move him up, Battista stole second and scored when Mogan laced a triple to right-center for a 3-1 advantage. Duerr doubled down the right-field line to plate Mogan.
''This is an amazing feeling,'' said Duerr, who singled and doubled. ''I didn't think it would feel this good.''
Madonna took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Luca Fuscardo took a two-out, four-pitch walk and Bowser ripped the second pitch he saw to right, which was misplayed for a three-base error and Fuscardo scored.
''Everybody played so well behind me,'' Luca Fuscardo said. ''This was another great team win for us.''
Madonna finished the season 25-9.
''This is the best feeling, especially to go out your senior year with another state championship,'' said Battista, who owns four state titles. ''I learned a lot as a sophomore watching Max (Nogay), Eddie (Nogay) and Lou (Comis) and their senior leadership. It really helped me to become a leader of this team.''