Rock-Em, Sock ‘Em Eagles Return To State Finale
Magnolia 7, Point Pleasant 0
The Magnolia Blue Eagles Baseball Team shut out Point Pleasant, 7-0, May 26 in the Region I Class-AA championship game at the George S. Mullett Complex, New Martinsville.
‘It’s our time,” said Head Coach Dave Cisar. repeating a message he has been delivering to his squad over and over again the last two weeks.
Despite two errors, the Blue Eagle defense was superb, executing a triple play in the top of the third inning, while turning a pair of double plays and an outstanding catch from the outfield by Matt Sapp.
”We were sharp defensively, especially our two sophomores up the middle, second baseman Tanner Hanna and shortstop Kyle Elliott,” Cisar said. ”In the 38 years I’ve coached here, I have never seen a triple play and we’ve seen two in the last four games.”
Blue Eagle hurler Justin “Tank” Fox also was appreciative of his teammates’ defensive effort. ”The defense was behind me the whole way,” he said. ”The triple play and the double play the next inning really gave me the confidence I needed to finish off the game.”
Fox started the game by striking out the side. And, after a Fox ground out, Kyle Elliott smacked a solo homer to give the Big Blue a 1-0 lead after one inning of baseball.
After a 12-pitch walk, Fox sat down the next three batters on strikes to get out of the second frame. In the bottom half, Traeh Keller drilled a liner that the Big Black third baseman snagged for the first out. Then, Matt Sapp had an infield single and swiped second base, but he was caught trying to steal third.
In the next inning, the Blacks’ lead-off batter singled and the at-bat reached on an Eagle error, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Magnolia second baseman Tanner Hanna backhanded a Point Pleasant liner and alertly made a short toss to Elliott, who then threw to Drew Simmons at first to complete the triple play.
In the home half, Simmons hit a slow roller and was erased at first, whereupon Jayson Keller reached on a Point Pleasant error. Fox drilled a single that pushed Keller to second and Elliott smacked one to deep right that moved Keller to third. Point Pleasant got out of the inning when their third baseman robbed Jordan Moore of extra bases on a nice catch to end the third with the Eagles clinging to a 1-0 lead.
In the following inning, the Blacks’ lead-off batter reached on a Magnolia error, but was neutralized on the next play when Elliott, Hanna and Simmons completed their second twin killing.
In the next inning, Point sat down the first two Magnolia batters before Sapp beat out his second infield single of the game and Hanna followed with a single off the glove of the Point Pleasant pitcher.
Sapp advanced from second on a Simmons slow roller to the third baseman, who missed the tag and threw the ball wildly to first, which allowed Sapp to come home.
Jayson Keller would load the bases on a walk and Fox drilled a rocket to right that scored Hanna and Simmons. Elliott ended the frame with a comebacker to the pitcher and Magnolia extended its lead to 4-0.
In the top of the fifth, the Blacks opened the inning with a single, but Fox would retire the next two via strike outs and Jayson Keller would make a routine catch in right to end the inning.
Moore opened the fifth with a long fly-out and Cameron Benson worked the Blacks for a walk. Traeh Keller reached first on a catcher-interference call, sending Benson to second. Sapp was ruled out on a close call at first that moved the runners up a notch. MHS pitch-hitter Ryan Walton walked to load the bases.
Simmons belted a single that plated Benson and an Eagle pinch runner. Jayson Keller walked to re-load the bases. Point Pleasant would have nothing to do with Fox and walked him on five pitches that forced in a run. Elliott poped out to end the Magnolia fifth.
Fox struck out the next batter on a nice foul tip caught by Traeh Keller from behind the plate. And, after a double, Fox would sit down another Point batter on strikes, while Moore would make a nice play at third to get the next batter to end the top of the sixth.
Moore walked to open the bottom half but would be erased on a nice double play by the Blacks. Traeh Keller was hit by a pitch and Zach Wilhoite courtesy ran for him. After a Sapp single, Hanna drilled one over the right field fence, out of play. The inning ended with a strike out.
Fox put down the Blacks in order in the seventh to gain the nod, sending Magnolia to the Dance in Charleston against Wyoming East at 5 p.m., Friday, June 3. The winner of that will play Saturday, June 4 for the Class-AA Championship, also at 5 p.m. and also at Power Park Stadium.
”I’m so happy for all our seniors,” Cisar said. ”It was great to see Drew Simmons come through with his big hit. He’s waited four years to do something like that. This was just a great game. What a wonderful crowd we had. I’m just very proud and honored to be a part of it.”
Fox struck out 11 and walked three to gain the victory from the rubber. He also helped himself out at the plate with two singles and three RBIs. Elliott smacked a home run and Simmons plated two runs with a single. Sapp added a pair of singles. Hanna also contributed to the offense with a single.
Magnolia 9, Oak Glen 1
The Magnolia Blue Eagles moved to one game away from a third state championship this season when the baseball team disposed of Oak Glen, 9-1, in the Region I semifinal May 24 at Mullett Field in New Martinsville, in front of a standing room only crowd.
On the mound for MHS was Kyle Elliott, fresh from his finest game in which he struck out 13 and allowed only six hits. It would take a fine performance from the Golden Bears to keep Magnolia from the Region I finals for the fifth straight season.
After an Oak Glen leadoff single to start the game, Eagles senior catcher Traeh Keller was on the money and and threw out a Golden Bear trying to steal. Elliott would induce a pair of groundouts to end the top of the first.
WVU-bound Justin “Tank” Fox singled and, two outs later, would score on a Keller double. After a Matt Sapp single, Tanner Hanna plated two runs with a single of his own. The Eagles scored four runs after two outs.
In the top of the second, Oak Glen belted a one-out single, but Elliott caught the baserunner leaning, threw to first, where Drew Simmons put down the tag. Elliott would strike out the next batter to send the Bears down in order for the second straight time.
In the bottom half of the second frame, Jayson Keller walked and was picked off at first for the out. Fox belted a double and raced to third on a passed ball and scored on a fielder’s choice.
In the third, Fox had an error that put Bears’ leadoff batter on. However, he then started a 6-4-3 double play to clear the bases. Oak Glen added a single, but a nice defensive play by Jordan Moore at third ended another Bear threat.
In the bottom half of the third, Sapp belted a two-out single and got into scoring position on a steal, but a strikeout ended the Eagles’ attempt to add to their total.
After an out, Oak Glen got on base in the fourth, but Elliott added a strikeout and another ground out to get out of another jam.
In the bottom half of the inning, Fox walked with two outs and moved to second on a baulk. However, Oak Glen left him stranded in scoring position.
After another ground out in the fifth, the Bears got two base runners in scoring position, but Elliott induced a pop out a ground out to get the Blue Eagles out of another jam.
Jayson Keller reached first on a walk and moved to second on a passed ball, then scored on a Sapp single to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead.
In the sixth frame, the Golden Bears got the monkey off their back with their lone run. After a lead-off single and a passed ball, the Bears would break up the shut out with a hit just far enough away from Simmons to reach. Two more ground outs and Magnolia was up 6-1 leading into the bottom half of the sixth.
After a fly out, Jayson Keller singled and scored when Fox tattooed one into the football bleachers. But the Blue Eagles were not done. After the second out via a pick off, Moore belted one over top of the Magnolia Greenhouse for a solo shot and Magnolia’s final tally.
But Oak Glen wouldn’t go down easy. The Bears opened the seventh with two straight singles, but the next two batters would strike out before Magnolia loaded the bases. However, Elliott would take care of businees when he fielded a harmless comebacker and tossed it to Simmons at first for the final out of the game.
The Eagles scored nine runs on nine hits, but had four errors, defensively. Fox was a triple away from hitting for the cycle, while driving in a pair. Moore blasted a solo homer to pace the Eagle offense. The Brothers Keller each smacked doubles, with Traeh driving in one. Matt Sapp singled twice and knocked in a run, while Hanna drove in two runs with a single. Elliott picked up the win from the rubber. He struck out four and didn’t walk at batter, while inducing 14 ground outs.