NEW MARTINSVILLE - Bishop Donahue literally walked its way to a victory against Magnolia in the Class A Region 1 semifinals Thursday night.
With a little help from above.
Trailing 6-2 entering the top of the seventh, the Bishops scored five runs to rally to the 7-6 victory. And had just one hit in doing so.
Photo by Dave Morrison/Jesse Padlow gets ready to deliver against Magnolia during a Class A Region I Semifinal game Thursday in New Martinsville.
Magnolia issued six walks in the dramatic, elongated seventh before Chaice Truex came through with the season's biggest single, scoring Bryce Jones and Hunter Kaschke to Bishop Donahue to the victory.
"It was meant to be," Truex said. "We were supposed to play for three days and it rained. Today, when it started to rain, I said a little pray to Dino. I said, 'Dino, help us.' All of a sudden the sun came out."
Dino is Dino Smith, the long-time Bishop Donahue supporter who passed away last year.
The never-say-die Bishops (14-11) will face St. Mary's today at St. Marys at 6:30 p.m. for a trip to the state baseball tournament next week at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park.
It didn't look like that would be the case entering the seventh, down 6-2 with the Bishops literally down to their final strike.
Levonte Hampton led off the inning with a walk, when Magnolia starter Zach Willhoite developed a blister.
He went to the bench, busted the blister and went back to the mound.
Two pitches later, he was lifted for Jake Starkey.
Walks to Lane Lemasters and Austin Cunningham followed, but then Starkey struck out Jesse Padlow (who was 3-for-3 to that point) and Brett Moore.
However, Bryce Jones and Kaschke followed with walks making the score 6-4.
At that point, Magnolia coach Dave Cisar went to Derek Blain, and he got ahead of Alex Riedel before losing him to a free pass, making it 6-5.
That brought Truex to the plate, and Willhoite back to the mound.
Truex ripped a single to center that scored both Jones and Kaschke with tying and go-ahead runs.
"When I first made contact I thought I hit a pop up the way it came off the bat," Truex said. "But Dino was watching over me. This was one of the greatest comebacks I've ever been a part of. I got the guys together in the seventh and told them let's go win this."
"This team is a real baseball team now," Bishop Donahue coach Bob Kleeh said. "Not that they weren't before. But now they believe. They never quit. We never thought we were out of the game, even when we were down to our last out, our last strike, These guys believe."
It was a tough loss for Magnolia (15-7), and it started early, when the game was delayed 45 minutes by a passing shower.
"That's baseball," long-time coach Dave Cisar, a Bishop Donahue alumnus who was presented a hat signed by the Donahue team before the game. "You have to get 21 outs and we got 20. You don't think you're ever going to see six walks and one hit and lose a game like that, especially with the control-type pitchers we had in the game."
Donahue took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first, when Brandon Mason's single scored Grant Cain, who had walked, and Chase West, who was a courtesy runner for Willhoite, who was hit by a pitch.
The Blue Eagles made it 4-1 in the second when Cain drew a bases-loaded walk and Drew Keller, who had walked, scored on an error.
Truex made it 4-2 in the third with a towering home run to center field, which came right after courtesy runner Jared Yates was caught stealing.
"Sometimes you have to make things happen," Truex said. "And we were trying to get something going there. They made a good play. Magnolia is a very good baseball team. In these situations you have to do everything you can, even if it means gambling."
Magnolia added what looked to be two big insurance runs in the fifth, when Drew Keller laid down a perfect suicide squeeze scoring Mason and Chase Miller chased home Blain with a single.
Jesse Padlow picked up the win, throwing three innings in relief of Hunter Kaschke.
Starkey was tagged with the loss.
Willhoite, the starter, did an admirable job working out of jams most of the night.
Bishop had 10 hits entering the seventh and wound up 15 runners, 12 in the first six innings.
"It seemed like Zach was pitching out of a rally in every inning," Cisar said. "We got all the outs we needed but one. All credit to Bishop Donahue, they did a great job tonight."
Kleeh said all hands will be on deck tonight at St. Mary's.
"We can still use Hunter, and Jesse has some innings," Kleeh said. "Everybody who is a pitcher is going to be on call. We are going to pull out all the stops."