WHEELING - Following the fifth game of the year, a 6-4 loss to River, Magnolia baseball coach Dave Cisar wasn't quite sure what the season had in store for his Blue Eagles.
''We were shocked by River,'' Cisar said. ''And no disrespect to River. They played an outstanding game against us with very solid defense and some good pitching, but we're thinking 'just wake up and get it going.' ''
That the Blue Eagles did and still continue to do as the club has strung together 17 consecutive victories over a 22-day span to compile a 21-1 record and became the first OVAC baseball team to win 20 games this season.
Magnolia became the first OVAC baseball team to win 20 games this season.
''We never would have thought that (would happen),'' Cisar said. ''I'm very happy with 17 wins in a row, but it doesn't get you anything until you're in the playoffs.''
According to Cisar, who is in his 40th season at the helm, if Magnolia is to make a deep run into the postseason, it won't be without the help of his four seniors.
''We have four great seniors in Ryan Walton, Chandler Sapp, Kyle Elliott and Tanner Hanna,'' Cisar pointed out. ''They've provided great leaderships. Putting those four kids together ... it's been magnificent. That's the first key.
''The second (key) is good pitching. We've had good, solid pitching all year. Whether it's pitcher No. 1 or five or six.''
You could argue that the two keys are one in the same considering that three of the four seniors (Walton, Elliott and Sapp) also lead the pitching rotation.
''We're really happy with Sapp,'' Cisar said. ''Especially on the mound. He's been a starter, a relief, a mop up guy, a closer ... he's really, really helped. Now we have three pretty solid seniors that we feel we can go with any day against anybody.''
The seniors, however, are not the only ones who can get it done from the mound for the Blue Eagles.
Zach Wilhoite, a standout for coach Dave Tallman's basketball team, has also been lights out as well as fellow junior Jake Starkey, who recorded the first no-hitter of his career Monday against Tyler Consolidated.
Even freshman Chase Miller, who Cisar calls ''a pleasant surprise,'' has stepped up for Magnolia.
In a way, the Blue Eagles actually seemed to have nearly mastered every facet of the game.
''It seems like in the last 10 games, we've played real, real solid defense,'' Cisar pointed out. ''And, we're getting timely hits here and there. A couple of games we went into the seventh losing, but then we managed to get good runs.''
Though the victories have been piling up in New Martinsville, no player is letting it get to their heads.
''We've developed a lot of confidence,'' Cisar explained. ''We're not cocky or arrogant, we're just confident. We know we're going to be in every ballgame with real good pitching and good defense.
''We're happy with where we're at. While we're doing this, we're having fun. We're trying to take it one game at a time.''
The Blue Eagles will be looking for their 18 straight and win No. 22 overall as the team travels north for a 5 p.m. showdown with Oak Glen today.