Blue Eagles Upend Wildcats In Sectional Finale
Blue Eagle Grant Cain chased home Chase Miller in the bottom of the seventh to cap off a wild 9-8 finish in the Region I, Section II title game against Paden City May 29 at Mullett Field, advancing them to the Region I semifinals Tuesday against Bishop Donahue at 5 p.m. (The Wetzel Chronicle printed before the game began.)
Magnolia’s starting pitcher, Jake Starkey, sat down the pesky Wildcats in order in the first inning, capped-off by a strike out.
Cain lifted a one-out double in the home-half, who then stole third off the ‘Cats’ pitcher without a throw from Michael Wilcox, and scampered home on a sacrifice fly by Zach Willhoite for the game’s first tally. Tyler Anderson singled, but the ‘Cats’ Devin Price hauled in a Brandon Mason single to right and rifled it to Isaac Hall at third to throw out the speedy Anderson for the final out of the frame.
After a Paden City strike out and a Magnolia boot, Hall fought off a Starkey fastball for a bloop single. Kennedy Cain drilled one down the leftfield line to score Tyler Stackpole, who was running for Wilcox, to knot the game at one.
A wild Magnolia pitch moved the Paden City runners in scoring position, and Andrew Dennis walked to load the bases. After another Starkey strike out, Hayden Hizer plated both Hall and Cain with a standup double. Starkey struck out his third batter of the inning, but the ‘Cats took over the lead 3-1 after one and a half innings of play.
The ‘Cats Isaac Hall would strike out the first two batters he faced, but the Eagles’ Drew Keller lined a single before Hall educed a pop-out to end the second frame with the Wildcats still on top 3-1.
Luke Cooper drilled his second hit of the game to open the third, and, after a pair of fly outs, Paden City got a free pass on the Eagles’ second miscue of the game.
However, Starkey educed a ground out to end the inning without any further damage.
Chase Miller walked to open the home half for the Eagles and Hall then robbed Cain of extra bases on a nice stop at the hot corner that held Cain to an infield single. After a Willhoite fielder’s choice, Cooper doubled him off after catching a rocket off the bat of Anderson for a double play.
Starkey sat down the next two batters, that included his fifth strike out of the game, but the ‘Cats freshman shortstop Hayden Hizer launched a solo home run to right-center, and then Levi Meadows chased the Magnolia starter with a single, bringing in Miller. Miller struck out the final batter of the inning, but Paden City increased its lead to 4-1.
After a ground out to Cooper, Kennedy Cain made a nice catch in left for the second out. Derrick Blain would then get a free pass, steal second, and scamper to third when the throw went into the outfield. Cooper would then strike out the next batter looking to end the Magnolia threat.
Blain hauled in a long Heasley fly to deep center for the first out. After a Wilcox single and a fielders choice, Kennedy Cain and Andrew Dennis each drew a base on balls to load the bases. But, Miller struck out the final batter to end the Wildcat threat.
Andrew Smith beat out a slow roller to short for a single. After a pop-out, Wilhoite reached on a Wildcat error, and Smith raced home on an Anderson single. After loading the bases once more, Cooper struck out Starkey to end the frame with the Wildcats still on top, 4-2.
In the top of the sixth Hizer singled, Meadows sacrifices him into scoring position. Magnolia gave Heasley a free ride to first on an intentional walk, and the Magnolia defense rose to the occasion and got out of the sixth without any damage.
In the bottom of the sixth the wheels fell off for the Green. After a Cooper strike out, Keller reached first on the third Paden City error of the game. Smith walked and Paden City Head Coach Brent Croasmun brought in Meadows. Miller greeted Meadows with a single, scoring Keller. Grant Cain reached on the fifth Wildcat error that scored Smith. Then Willhoite lifted a Meadows fastball into the night for a three-run home run. After a Anderson fly out, Nick Priem singled and pitch run by Tanner McAdams. He stole second and Starkey brought him home on a base hit to give the hosts a 8-4 advantage, knocking out Meadows and bringing in Kyle Postlewait. who struck out the next Magnolia batter looking.
With Magnolia up four to start the seventh, Paden City’s chances looked bleak, but the never-say-die Wildcats went to work with the help of three walks and a pair of Magnolia errors to knot the game at 8-8. Mixed in between a fly out and a strike out, Kennedy Cain walked and raced to second on a wild pitch. Craig Allen and Hizer each walked to load the bases with two outs.
Magnolia’s skipper brought in his stopper, Willhoite, to put out the flame. However, he walked Meadows on four pitches, scoring Cain, and gave up a run-scoring single by Cooper. After another visit to the mound by Cisar. Wilhoite got a routine ground ball that should have ended the game. However, a fielding error and a throwing error on the play scored two Paden City runs. But, Cooper, who was running on the play, got the green light after the ball got away from the Magnolia catcher. However, the ball bounced back into play and the Eagles’ Grant Cain tagged Cooper out on a heads-first slide at the plate to end the top half of the seventh with the game knotted at 8-8.
Postlewait got the first two batters out in the bottom half, but after a two-out single by Miller, Grant Cain scored Miller, with a walk-off game-ending double.
“That’s quite often the typical high school baseball game. You have a lot of walks, a lot of errors, and a lot of mental mistakes,” said Cisar. “I don’t think we or Paden City played their best game, but sometimes you just become fortunate.
“You have to give Paden City a lot of credit, they came back from a four-run deficit. But let’s also look how we came back. It was a game of up and downs.”
Cain led the Blue Eagles with three-hits, including a pair of doubles, while knocking in the game-winner. Willhoite knocked in four runs with a home run and a sacrifice fly, while Miller and Mason each recorded two base hits. Priem, Smith, and Keller each added singles, while Starkey knocked in a run with a single.
Starkey started a struck out five and walked one in four innings of work, while Miller struck out three and waked five in his three innings of work. Wilhoite got the win in relief, didn’t strike out a batter, and walked one.
For the Wildcats, Hizer, knocked in three runs on three-hits that included a home run, while Cooper knocked in a run with a pair of base hits. Kennedy Cain and Meadows each added RBI singles. Hall and Wilcox each singled, while Meadows laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Cooper started and struck out six and walked four in six innings of work. Meadows didn’t strike out any or walk any, while Postlewait struck out two, took the loss.