Magnolia freshman Derrick Blain drove in five runs with a bases loaded single, suicide squeeze, and a ground out, while senior hurler Kyle Elliott scattered three hits to help the Blue Eagles punch their ticket to the state tournament with a 12-1 five-inning mercy-rule shorten game May 22 at the Mullett Baseball Complex.
Elliott gave up a double and a base on balls to the first pair of St. Marys batters, but would settle down to get the next three batters to give his team a chance to get on the board first. And indeed they did. The Eagles sent nine to the plate in the inning, scoring five times, keyed by a bases loaded single by Blain, and a walk.
Elliott was on his game in the second, mowing down two Devil batters on strikes, and a routine fly-out to centerfield. The Eagles went down one-two-three in the home half, as did the Blue Devils in the top of the third.
Big Blue's Zach Wilhoite drove one over the left field fence, but went a little wide, however he would line a rocket between the shortstop and the third baseman for a single to open the bottom of the third. Tanner Hanna walked on four pitches, and Shane Miller drilled a single to score Wilhoite. After a Grant Cain strike out, Hanna and Miller moved up a base on a wild pitch.
Blain would then lay down a perfectly executed two-strike suicide squeeze that plated Hanna, while Miller rushed to third, and Blain made it to first. And, after a Ryan Walton strike out, Chandler Sapp drilled a stand-up double down the third base line, scoring two to give the mighty Eagles a commanding 9-0 lead after three full innings of play.
"I'm real happy with my freshman getting a three-run hit and getting a suicide squeeze down," stated Cisar of Blain. "He did well not knowing if he was going to play."
St. Marys would start the fourth off with an infield single and Magnolia Head Coach Dave Cisar called a time out after Jake Starkey couldn't pick up a grounder.
Afterwards, St. Marys belted a double down the line that scored their only run of the game. Elliott would then issue his second free pass of the game that loaded the bases, but would strand three base-runners.
Hanna opened the bottom of the fourth with a walk and would score on a Shane Miller double. Miller moved up a base on a wild pitch and would touch home on a suicide squeeze by Cain. Cain scampered to first and would end up on third on a two-base error. Blain would knock home Soren Shade who replaced Cain on a ground out.
The Eagles' Brandon Mason replaced Starkey at second and threw out the first batter on a nice play at second, as did Miller at third on a close play to nip the batter runner at first.
After a walk, the Eagles' Brandon Fayad hauled in the final out on a fly out to right.
Blain paced the Blue Eagles with five RBIs, while Sapp and Miller each knocked in two. Elliott work all five innings, striking out seven and walking three.
"He threw well," stated Cisar of his hurler Elliott. "It was the first time he'd thrown in a couple of weeks. His arm was a bit gimpy earlier this week, that's why we didn't pitch him against Wheeling Central much.
"I felt we had a heck of a chance to have a good team because we had three senior pitchers and two junior hurlers in Starkey and Wilhoite. And then Miller came in as a freshman.
"We've gotten better as a team. And as we've gotten better, we've gotten more confident."
The Eagles will now play East Hardy on May 31 in Charleston to open the WVSSAC Class-A semi-finals at 10 a.m. at Power Park Stadium.