Eagles Down Knights
KIDWELL – It may not have been as quick or easy as many people expected, but Magnolia continued its sectional domination of Tyler Consolidated on the baseball diamond Thursday afternoon in a game that had been put on hold because of weather since last Tuesday.
Senior Mason Rine came up a few feet short of hitting for the cycle and three Blue Eagles pitchers combined on an efficient five-hitter as Magnolia rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to post a 7-2 victory against the Silver Knights and complete a sweep of the West Virginia Class AA Region One, Section Two championship at Tyler Consolidated High School.
Magnolia will now take a 21-5 record into Monday afternoon’s 5 p.m. Region One semifinals against Weir High at the George Mullett Baseball Complex in New Martinsville. The Eagles downed the Red Riders by an 11-6 count in their only other meeting this season.
“We didn’t bring our “A” game (Thursday),” Cisar said. “But we are going to see a very good pitcher on Monday and a very competitive Weir team and we had better be at our best for that.”
Striking quickly, Coach D.J. Cunningham’s Silver Knights collected three of their five hits and both runs in the bottom of the first. The big blast came on a two-run single off the bat of starting, and losing pitcher, Blaise Rice.
However, freshmen Kyle Elliott and Chuckie McElaney, along with junior standout Justin Fox, combined to face the minimum 18 hitters during the final six innings while allowing just two harmless singles. One of those was erased on a double play and the other was caught stealing.
Overall, the Blue Eagles trio combined on eight strikeouts and one walk while throwing a total of 79 pitches. Both Elliott and McElaney also contributed RBI singles.
After an infield single and a double play, Magnolia went to work with two down in the second. Davey Howell worked a walk, stole second and came around to score when Traeh Keller reached on an error to make it 2-1.
Magnolia added two more in the third to take the lead for good as Derek Frunner reached on a bunt single and went all the way to third on a stolen base and passed ball. Elliott’s single knotted the count at 2-2 before Rine launced a run-scoring triple to right for what amounted to the game-winning run to make it 3-2.
Another Frunner bunt base hit, another stole base and a McElaney single pushed the margin to 4-2 in the fifth. The Eagles loaded the bases with none out in the sixth and scored on a walk, fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly to add some insurance.
“We were sleep-walking the whole day out there,” Cisar added. ‘At bat, on the bases, in the field. But a win is a win is a win is a win. There are no style points awarded and we will always take a win.
“This was the first time we have been on the baseball field in 10 days. But lets also give Tyler some credit, that team came to win. The final score wasn’t just 7-2 because Magnolia didn’t play well, but also because Tyler did play well.”
Rine finished with a single, double, triple and RBI and in his final at-bat drove a shot to deep left-center field that was hauled in by a diving Brandon Grimes at the fence.
Frunner also singled twice and drove home a run for the Blue Eagles.