Eagles Win Sectional; Advance To Regional Semi
After claiming the Class AAA OVAC baseball championship last week, the Magnolia Blue Eagles were back for seconds in the best of two West Virginia Class AA Region I, Section II tournament against Tyler Consolidated May 12 at Mullett Field in New Martinsville.
Jordan “Po” Ash and Davey “Hitman” Howell smacked home runs to back the one-hit pitching of Justin Fox that powered the Blue Eagles to a convincing 15-0 mercy-rule victory.
Fox set the Silver Knights down in order in the first frame. Magnolia started off the bottom half with an Andrew Robinson walk. Robinson then trotted home on a one-pitch homer by Ash that bounced into the Paden City pool to give the good guys a 2-0 lead.
Fox retired the Knights’ first two batters, but a Jordan Moore error gave the visitors their first base runner of the game. The next Knight batter blasted the ball to Moore who threw it to Robinson at first for a nice tag that put the Blue Eagles on offense once again.
Zach Perkey, the Silver Knights’ top hurler, got the first Eagle batter to ground out and struck out the next batter. After walking Ben Clark, Perkey struck out Seth Pay, who was looking to get out of the inning.
Tyler Knight second baseman Zack “Kazoo” Knowlton greeted Fox with the only Tyler hit of the game that went to right field. Knowlton swiped second on a bang-bang play and Fox got out of the third with a called strike three.
Perkey was cruising up to this point and got Robinson out, on a grounder, for the only time of the game. Mason Rine walked, but was later picked off trying to steal second. Ash jumped on a Perkey fast ball and belted a liner into the first baseman’s glove for the third out.
Fox struck out two of the next three Knight batters to set the stage for one of the longest fourth innings in the history of Magnolia-Tyler baseball.
Fox walked to open the bottom half of the fourth. Davey Howell got his first hit of the day when he converted a Perkey fast ball into a home run. Traeh Keller walked and Derek Fruner came in to run for him. Fruner stole second and third with nice head-first slides and was chased home on a Ben Clark sacrifice fly.
Pay walked and Robinson plated Landon Herrick, who had walked earlier in the inning. Rine walked for the second straight inning and Ash delivered his second home run of the game to clear the bases. Fox, who started the inning with a walk, flew out to left for the second out of the inning. Howell, who had homered earlier in the inning, just missed his second and hustled to third for a stand up triple.
Keller was hit by a pitch and Drew Simmons entered the game as his pinch runner. Herrick doubled while Clark and Pay each singled and Robinson cleared the bases with a stand up double. Mason ended the one-hour half inning with a called third strike out.
The Knights didn’t score in the top of the fifth and Magnolia captured game one of the best-of-three regional championship, 15-0.
Ash had a pair of home runs, while Howell added a home run and a triple to lead the Blue Eagle offense. Robinson contributed a single and a double, while plating four runs. Clark drove home two with a single and a sacrifice fly, while Herrick plated a run with a double. Pay got the only other hit, a single that brought home an RBI.
Magnolia finished off Tyler Consolidated 13-2 May 13 in the Region I, Section II game to advance to the Regional semifinals at Tyler Consolidated.
As in the sectional opener, the Blue Eagles were dominant in every way. Junior second baseman-turned-pitcher Mason Rine held the Knights to four hits in the game. He sat down seven batters, while walking only one to pick up the win from the mound.
Magnolia used the small ball early in the game and brought out the heavy artillery later. Justin Fox went yard, while Andrew Robinson, Davey Howell and Traeh Keller each doubled to provide the fire works.
Magnolia held a commanding 8-0 lead after four-and-a-half innings, but Consolidated finally got on the scoreboard with one run in the fourth and one in the sixth. However, the Eagles’ bats stayed busy and added two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth to gain the mercy-rule victory.
Fox led the Blue Eagle offense with a single and a home run, while knocking in a pair of teammates. Howell drilled a single and a double, while plating three base runners. Meantime, Robinson and Keller each brought home a run with a single and a double. Landon Herrick stroked the ball as well, adding a pair of singles and plating a run.
Zach Perkey had three of the four Silver Knight hits. The Eagles improved to 15-5 on the season and will meet the Weir Red Riders May 26 at Edwin J. Bowman Field.
The winner of the contest will move to the Region I Championship – one game from going to Charleston in the Class AA Baseball Championship.