WHEELING - There is one thing that Bishop Donahue coach Curt Mele and Wheeling Central coach Rick Magruder can agree on after their sectional championship clash - the Maroon Knights hit the ball when they needed to.
It was as simple as that as the game resulted in a 7-3 Central victory. The two teams will meet again at 5 this afternoon as another Central victory would give the Knights a sectional title, while a Bishops victory would force a third game, which would be played Saturday.
''We didn't play well, but we came up with some key hits when we had to,'' Magruder said. ''We're happy with the win, but not satisfied.''
Bishop Donahue’s Selena Ghaphery successfully steals second base as Wheeling Central’s Sydney Bennington is unable to glove a misplaced throw.
The Knights (18-8) ended the game with 11 hits, but left the same number of baserunners stranded.
''That hurts,'' Magruder noted. ''I don't like when we do that. We've got to get the runners in when we can. You can't leave that many runners on base. I don't care who you are playing, if you leave that many runners on base, you're going to struggle.''
Not if starting pitcher Sarah Henry had a say in it. The senior fanned six, walked one and only allowed two-hits in a complete game victory.
One of the two hits, however, was a two-run homer off the bat of Andrea Guzek that sailed over the left field fence and pulled the Bishops (17-12) to within one at 4-3 in the sixth.
''We weren't happy (about it),'' Magruder said. ''She just got a hold of it. You can't give someone like her a pitch she can hit like that. She's a good hitter. We didn't like it, but the girls battled back.''
That they did.
With only one out and the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning, Henry hit a sac fly to right field to bring in Cara Stahl to give the Knights some breathing room.
Vanessa Saseen and Cassidy McCord both followed with RBI singles into left field to make it 7-3.
''It was a tough one,'' Mele admitted. ''They hit the ball when they needed to and we didn't.''
There were a few positives the Bishops can hang their caps on, however.
In both the fourth and fifth innings Central had the bases loaded with one out, but the Bishops kept their heads about them as the Knights only scored one run in the fifth off a hit by McCord.
''We did a lot of good things,'' Mele said. ''Give credit to Central. They made the plays when they had to.''
Now Donahue faces a win or go home scenario, though Mele likes his team's chances.
''It comes down to a one game season now. We have to win (today) to extend our season. I don't think we played bad (Thursday). We have to keep our heads up and stay positive. I think we have a good chance of winning (today) to extend it to Saturday. Then on Saturday, I think we can pull another one out. We'll see how it goes (today).''