Donahue Walks Off With Regional Semi Win
Bishop Donahue walked its way to a 7-6 WVSSAC Class-A Region I semi-final victory May 29 at Magnolia’s Mullett Field.
Trailing 6-2 entering the top of the seventh, Bishop Donahue would score five runs on one hit, six walks, a hit batsmen, and one Magnolia error to end the Blue Eagles’ quest for back-to-back Region I Championships.
It took only three pitches for Magnolia’s hurler, Zach Willhoite, to get the first out with a strike out. After a single and a ground out, the Eagles committed an error that got the Bishops on the scoreboard first. Willhoite would then strike out the next batter.
Chase Miller opened the Blue Eagle first with a single, but was thrown out at second trying to steal. After a Grant Cain walk and a hit batsmen, Tyler Anderson grounded out, moving the runners up a base. Then, Brandon Mason drove in Cain and Chase West, who was running for Willhoite, on a two-out single.
Bishop loaded the bases in the second, but failed to score a run. The Eagles took advantage and scored twice in the second. Derrick Blain opened it up with a single and raced to second on a one-out, sacrifice bunt by Andrew Smith. Drew Keller walked and Miller singled home Blain to load the bases. Cain knocked in Blain when he was issued a free pass to give the hosts a 4-1 lead.
Donahue got its lead-off batter on with a single, but Cain threw him out trying to steal. However, Bishop’s next batter hit a towering home run to pull within a pair at 4-2.
The Eagles went down in order in the bottom of the third, but still held a 4-2 lead. Donahue opened their second straight inning with a single in the fourth, but couldn’t get anything else going.
After a leadoff strike out, Smith singled. After a pop out, Cain doubled, sending Smith to third. Donahue issued an intentional walk to load the bases and got out of the stanza with a ground out.
Donahue got their third straight lead-off single. After another single, the Eagles turned a 6-4-3 double play. After another free-ride, Willhoite got the final out with a “K”.
In the home half, Mason walked and Jake Starkey singled. After a Blain fielder’s choice, Keller laid down a perfect two-strike suicide squeeze that scored Mason. Miller plated Blain and Cain walked to load the bases, but Willhoite grounded out to end the fifth with Magnolia on top 6-2.
Donahue singled once more to open the sixth. After filling the bases for the third time in the game, the Bishops grounded out to third for the force out. The Eagles got two runners on, but couldn’t get anyone in.
After a leadoff walk in the seventh, Magnolia Head Coach Dave Cisar went to Starkey when Willhoite was pulled because of a blistered up pitching finger.
Starkey loaded the bases before sitting down two straight batters on strikes. However, he walked two in and Cisar went to Blain in relief. After getting ahead 2-0, Blain walked in another, making it 6-5. Cisar went back to Willhoite, who gave up a single that scored the tying and go-ahead runs.
In the bottom half, the Eagles’ Keller singled, but a double play and a ground out ended the Eagles’ season.
“That’s baseball,” said Cisar. “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 pitchers we had in the game.”
Miller and Cain led the Eagles with two hits and an REI, while Mason, Starkey, Blain, Keller, and Smith each posted a base hit.
The Eagles finished the season 15-7 and lost Willhoite, Smith, Keller, Cain, Starkey, and West to graduation.