Weirton Madonna Tops Frontier in OVAC Baseball Tournament
WEIRTON — The Madonna baseball team squandered a five-run lead but rebounded to take a 9-6 victory against Frontier in the semifinals of the annual OVAC baseball tournament Friday night at Bowman Field.
The Blue Dons went ahead 6-1 in the second inning, and senior lefty Chayce Lemley was cruising along with a one-hitter through the first four innings. Freshman Dom Brncic replaced Lemley on the hill and the Cougars, who had scratched out two runs in the second and fourth innings, plated four in the fifth (three were unearned) and tied the score at 6-6.
The Blue Dons, who hold the top seed in Class 1A, must wait until a week from today to play in the championship game at 4 p.m. at the I-470 baseball diamond in Wheeling against the winner of the Paden City-Cameron game played today.
This was the first time the Blue Dons made it into the OVAC baseball tournament since they won it in 2013, and Coach Tim Provenzano said the way the game went it was an interesting way to get back in it.
“They had four hits and we gave up six runs,” he said. “The biggest things are the unearned runs. We had to control things and not let the game get out of hand and that’s what we did. We have enough pitching that we can make those adjustments if a team comes back like that.”
Provenzano, whose team expanded its record to 10-5, brought junior right-hander Domenic Mazur out of the bullpen to shut down the Cougars’ fifth-inning uprising and his offense went back to work scoring three in the bottom of the inning.
“I’m not worried about the hitting whatsoever,” Provenzano said. “We’re hitting the ball just fine. I’m very happy with our hitting. Tyler (Wright) is playing great this year. He’s batting about .600. He hit an opposite-field shot (Friday) for a home run and the bottom part of our lineup is helping us out. Chayce Lemley has been hitting the ball very well this year, too. He’s hitting about .450. We moved him into the 2-hole and he’s adjusted well to it. He also gives us a bit more speed up there in the top of the order.
“We just have to clean up some of the defensive and base-running mistakes and we’ll be all right.”
Wright’s blast, his first of the season and career fifth, came in the second inning with a man aboard. He also had a RBI single in the first inning when the Blue Dons struck for three runs.
“It was good to get a good swing on the ball,” said Wright, the Blue Dons first baseman who is a Waynesburg University baseball recruit. “I haven’t hit with much power this year but we played good baseball and it was good to get a win. The weather hasn’t been kind to us this year but when we’ve played, we’ve played well.”
Other highlights of the 12-hit Madonna attack saw Lemley drive in two runs and collected a couple of singles and a double while scoring three times. Catcher Luke Beatty drilled a run-scoring double in the first inning. Nick Paul and Mac Raymond each had two singles with Paul driving in a run in the first inning. Christian Ridgeway belted a double and Gavin Ditrich ripped a triple.
Madonna took advantage of some timely hitting to score in lightning-like fashion in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ridgeway’s one-out double to right-center field started it. He was erased at third base on Lucky Pulice’s fielder’s-choice grounder. But Pulice scored from first base when Dietrich followed with a ringing triple. Two pitches later, Lemley smashed his double to score Dietrich and he scored when the Frontier shortstop misplayed a Wright grounder.
“We were having fits against that left-hander (Lemley),” said Frontier coach Kurt Satterfield, whose team lost in the first round of the OVAC Tournament for the second year in a row. “The next pitcher (Brncic) had a little trouble and we took advantage of it. We got a nice hit down the left-field line by Logan Brodour and got an obstruction call there at third base.
“We came back. We showed a little character there. We’ve been struggling on that. When we get down like that we just usually fall down. (Firday) we got back up and gave them a fight anyway. That’s a good team.
“Our pitcher, Brent West, threw a lot of pitches (over 100). He’s a senior who is 270 pounds and 6-4. He can handle it.”
The Cougars were playing their second game of the day. They played to a 5-5 tie with Liberty Benton so they head into a weekend rest with a record of 7-8-1. They travel to rival Fort Frye on Monday.