Magnolia Falters In State Baseball Semi-Finals
After falling behind 5-0, the Magnolia Blue Eagle Baseball Team scored three runs in the third and one more in the fifth to close. However, the 23-5 Wyoming East Warriors would add an insurance run in the sixth, while the Eagles self destructed with four costly errors, to lose, 6-4, in the West Virginia Class-AA State semi-finals in Appalachian Park In Charleston June 3.
With both number two starters on the hill for the Eagles and the Warriors, it was Magnolia that threatened in the top of the first. West Virginia University-bound Justin Fox worked a walk to open the game and then swiped second to put himself in scoring position.
However, two straight Eagle strike outs kept Fox at bay. But, the speedy Fox stole third to put himself in a good spot to score. But, a routine grounder to third ended the Eagles’ threat.
The Warriors opened with a single, but Magnolia pitcher Kyle Elliott teamed with first baseman Drew Simmons to catch the leadoff batter napping for the first out. After a ground out to Jordan Moore at third, Wyoming East worked Elliott for a walk. The walk came back to haunt Elliott. as he balked and moved the base-runner to second. Whereupon, the next batter chopped a high grounder over top Moore at third to score the base runner.
Big Blue catcher Traeh Keller walked to open the second, but three straight strike outs ended the Eagles’ chance to make any noise.
Wyoming East opened the second inning with a Excuse-Me single, which followed with a solid single to left that forced Magnolia Head Coach Dave Cisar to go to his ace, Fox, to shut the door. However, Fox walked his first batter on four straight balls to load the bases.
After a strike out, Fox was ripped by a rope to left field that scored two runs. He would then throw the ball away trying to pick off a runner advancing two East players into scoring position. Then, Wyoming East belted a double down the right field line for a standup double that scored two more Warrior runs to push their advantage to 5-0 after two inningsof baseball.
But, the never-say-die Eagles came back to score three runs to close the gap to 5-3 when Fox, Elliott, Moore and Cameron Benson each belted singles and Keller blasted a sacrifice fly.
Fox would strike out two batters each in the third and fourth frames, but the Wyoming pitcher sat down two Eagle batters via strike outs in the top of fourth.
In the top of the fifth, Elliott smacked a single that the left fielder couldn’t come up with and he would race all the way to third with one out. The Wyoming East Coach had seen enough and called in his ace to cool down the Eagles.
Moore smacked a grounder that scored Elliott, but Moore was called out at first after the first baseman clearly dropped the ball. Blue Eagle Assistant Coach Vance Ash pleaded with the umpires to get together and make the right call. And they did, putting Moore back on first with only one out.
However, Moore was caught stealing and the next batter struck out to end the fifth frame, with the Eagles behind one run at 5-4.
Both teams went down in order during their next times at bat. But, in the bottom of the sixth inning, Magnolia committed three straight errors and the Warriors scored on a sacrifice fly to push their lead to 6-4 heading into the seventh.
The Warrior third baseman made a nice defensive play on a Ryan Walton liner for the first out. The Eagles stayed alive with a Jayson Keller single, while pitch runner Chase Cain moved to second on a fielder’s choice. But, Wyoming East got the last out on another ground out to advance to the championship bout against number ranked Chapmanville Tigers.
The Eagles had a successful season winning 13 and losing seven. They won their sectional and regional titles and competed in the OVAC finals as the number two seed in Class-AAA.
Fox worked five innings, striking out seven and walking two, while yielding three hits and three runs. Elliott pitched two innings and gave up three runs on four hits.
The Eagles will lose seven seniors to graduation in Fox, Moore, Benson, Cain, Drew Simmons, Matt Sapp and Traeh Keller. Ash will be replaced by Trey Barcus next season. But, the Blue Eagles will return starters Elliott, Jayson Keller and Tanner Hanna, plus subs Walton, Zach Wilhoite, Chandler Sapp, and Jacob Starkey.