Coach Dave Cisar and Magnolia's boys of summer started their season on the right cleat March 21, winning their first game against the St. Marys Blue Devils, 1 to 11 after just five innings.
Magnolia Pitcher Tanner Hanna came out in the first inning looking pensive. The mood wasn't helped when Zach Willhoite made an error to let the first St. Marys runner reach base. St. Marys quickly followed up with a base hit to get runners on first and second.
However, the third batter up hit one right at Magnolia second baseman Dale Starkey, who stopped on second and completed the double play to first baseman Bentley Knight. With a man on third, Willhoite redeemed his earlier error by knocking down a hard liner and throwing the batter out at first.
Blue Eagles Grant Cain and Bentley Knight make a play on the only baserunner to score March 21 in a run-rule shortened game against St. Marys. (Photos by Miranda Stokes)
Magnolia started up fast in the bottom of the first against St. Marys hurler Robbie Harper with two quick singles and a hit batsman to load the bases with no outs. Willhoite stepped to the plate and made hard contact on the ball, clearing the bases and landing on third with a stand-up triple. Another single by Knight scored Willhoite. After that, Harper settled in and shut down the Magnolia offense, but the damage was already done, and the first inning ended 0-4 with Magnolia up.
Both pitchers looked much sharper in the second inning, with Magnolia sitting down St. Marys 1-2-3 and Harper striking out the first two Magnolia batters. The third batter made it to first on a close play but was caught stealing.
An uneventful third inning went by without either team scoring, but the top of the fourth saw St. Marys threatening to score when a base running error by a player on second rounded third and headed toward home, not realizing that Magnolia shortstop Kyle Elliot had stopped a liner shallow in the outfield and threw the runner out at home.
St. Marys sent out a new pitcher in the fourth, Hunter Nichols. It was obvious watching him warm up that he was a hard thrower and had a very good curve on the ball. He started off the inning with a hit batsman who got a courtesy runner, Brantley Hissom.
Nichols followed that up with a strike out, then a hard hit ball to first that was sent on the second, but failed to beat the runner, Hissom. However, thinking he was out, Hissom left the base and was tagged out. Walks put two players on base and Elliott drove them in with another stand-up triple. Later in the inning he scored, bringing Magnolia's lead to 0-7.
The top of the fifth started with a beautiful running catch by Magnolia right fielder, Chandler Sapp. After another fly out, Hanna hit the next batter, who scored on a double to give St. Marys its first run of the game. The inning ended 1-7.
Nichols started off the fifth inning with a hit batsman and a base on balls, after which St. Marys decided to bring in another reliever. Another walk had the bases loaded and a second runner scored Magnolia's eighth run of the game.
A soft grounder to the pitcher resulted in a force at home for an out, but another hit batsman scored Magnolia's ninth run. St. Marys changed pitchers one more time to bring Ryan Taylor in, but the first batter he faced singled in two runs and the game ended 1-11 on the run rule.