STEUBENVILLE - A season after dropping a 2-1 decision to Bishop Donahue in the OVAC Class 1A championship game, Madonna found itself with a chance to turn the tables Saturday.
While Coach Tim Provenzano's Blue Dons were out-hit by a 7-4 margin and didn't score a run after the first inning, they did enough to get the revenge they were after.
Kent State recruit Luca Fuscardo flirted with disaster most of the contest, but fanned seven and walked four in going the distance and a first-inning run on a wild pitch proved to be the difference as Madonna held on for a 3-2 victory against the Bishops to claim the small-school crown at Vaccaro Field.
Bishop Donahue second baseman Jesse Padlow tags out Madonna’s Ross Comis.
For Donahue coach Bob Kleeh, it was a game in which his squad had plenty of opportunities to not only go ahead, but put some distance between itself and the Blue Dons, but just couldn't get the big hit.
"We just did not take advantage of anything at the plate," Kleeh said. "Congratulations to Weirton Madonna. Luca struggled a little early on and we just couldn't take advantage of it.
"He is one hell of a pitcher and did one hell of a job when he needed to. But I also have to say that Hunter Kaschke pitched a hell of a game for us as well, we just had some miscues in the field that hurt us."
While Donahue had opportunities early on, the Bishops managed to push across just one run, that coming in the first inning.
Bryce Jones' one-out single was followed by a walk to Kaschke and Alex Riedel's run-scoring base hit for a 1-0 lead. However, Donahue stranded runners at second and third.
On the other hand, Madonna made the most of its chances in the bottom half. A lead-off walk was followed by Will Bowser's booming double to right field and one out later Ross Comis' run-scoring single to center that made it 2-1. The Blue Dons added a third run on a passed ball.
The Bishops were at it again in the second, however a pair of walks and an error did nothing but leave the bases loaded with no damage done.
Things got even worse in the third as Bishop Donahue again filled the sacks, this time with one out. But Fuscardo managed to fan the next two batters and again keep the Bishops off the board.
Through three Kleeh's club sent 18 hitters to the plate, scored just one run and stranded eight runners, six in scoring position.
Madonna missed a chance to expand the lead in the fifth due to some poor base running. After having the leadoff man reach on an error, he was thrown out trying to advance to second. Bowser doubled on the next pitch, but was thrown out trying to steal third.
The Dons then stranded runners at second and third in the frame.
Donahue did get a two-out Lavonte Hampton single in the top of the seventh but following a wild pitch, he was stranded at second base.
"This was a great game," Provenzano said. "We have such good senior leadership here and Luca pitched an absolute gem. I know he threw a lot of pitches and got behind in the count, but he battled all day.
"I also can't say enough about Kaschke. He is a great pitcher and showed that. But Luca just made some nice pitches to get us out of some situations. What a leader."