WEIRTON - Sometimes in baseball help comes from unexpected places.
That's what happened last night at Ed Bowman Field when two Madonna freshman helped to lead the Blue Dons to a thrilling 7-6 victory over Wheeling Central.
It probably shouldn't have been so thrilling, because the Blue Dons squandered a 6-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning allowing the Maroon Knights to tie the score. By the time Madonna made the last out, the Maroon Knights had the potential winning run on third base.
AND?THE?DELIVERY — Madonna’s Connor Mogan throws a pitch during the Blue Dons’ 7-6 win over Wheeling Central at Bowman Field Friday.
"Any time you beat a team that has been a nemesis like Wheeling Central has been for Madonna athletics, it is a great win," said victorious coach Jeff Baire. "And any way you get the win is great, too."
Madonna, which capitalized on three of four previous Wheeling Central errors made the Maroon Knights pay when they committed their fifth miscue in the top of the seventh. That happened on Nick Ossman's grounder to open the inning. The throw from the shortstop was a little off line and then the first baseman dropped the ball as he attempted to tag Ossman.
Sophomore Will Bowser sacrificed his classmate to second with a bunt. Luca Fuscardo, who had two hits in the game, worked Maroon Knight losing pitcher, John McFarland, for a walk and both runners moved to third and second respectively on a McFarland wild pitch.
Wheeling Central couldn't get Madonna freshman catcher, Dom Silvestri out. He opened the game with three straight singles, one of them driving in a run, so Maroon Knight coach, Jimbo Wodusky decided to give him an intentional walk to first base.
That loaded the bases for another freshman, Kaleb Baire, the coach's son.
With the Wheeling Central infield playing in, Baire went to the plate with the intention of just putting the ball in play. He hit a bouncing ball in just the right spot between third base and shortstop. The Maroon Knight shortstop fielded the ball, but was not in position to make a play at the plate as the speedy Ossman was off and running as soon as Baire made contact.
"It was fantastic that those two freshmen came through in a big time situation like this game was for us," Baire explained. "This is the second game in a row that Silvestri has been behind the plate for us and he is really taking advantage of the opportunity. And Kaleb just put that ball in the right place. Anywhere else and Wheeling Central probably would have gotten the out at home plate."
Meanwhile, Wodusky told his team, which has a 7-10 record, that he couldn't expect any more from them.
"I'm proud of the kids for fighting back," he said. "But that's the kind of game I expect when these two teams get together. (Connor) Mogan pitched a good game, but we made some mistakes to give them some runs. Good teams take advantage of those mistakes and that's what Madonna did today."
The win gives Madonna a sweep of the two games between the teams in the regular season and serves as a springboard for the Blue Dons as they head into the OVAC tournament this afternoon against Morgantown Trinity at Bishop Donahue.
Mogan, who had scattered nine hits through the first six innings, couldn't get anyone out in the seventh. Junior lefthander, Tory Fuscardo, came on to retire the side and earn the win.
"This is the second straight game that Connor has looked phenomenal early, but got up around 100 pitches and faltered in the seventh," said Baire. "We're working with him to get him to go right at the batters in the seventh, but we made the plays to get off the field when we had to."
The Blue Dons scored single runs in the first and second innings and scored twice in each of the fourth and fifth innings. Meanwhile, the Maroon Knights scored single runs in the second and fifth innings and tied it with four in the seventh.
Another Blue Don that was a thorn in the Wheeling Central side was senior center fielder Logan Linder. He blasted out four hits in as many trips to the plate driving in two runs with a smash down the left field line that went for a double in the fourth inning. Ross Comis collected two singles and so did Luca Fuscardo.
Wheeling Central leadoff batter and designated hitter, Andrew Keane, had three hits in five at bats and Anthony Tighe was three for four. Derek Yocke and Nick Naumann each collected two hits.
While the Blue Dons, who finished in second place, play in the OVAC semifinals today at 2 p.m., the Maroon Knights don't play again until Monday when they host Cameron.
Madonna 7, Wheeling Central 6
Wheeling Central 010 010 4 - 6 11 5
Madonna 110 220 1 - 7 14 3
WHEELING CENTRAL (7-10): Fair (1K, 1BB), McFarland (LP, 0K, 2BB) and Yocke; Keane 2S, 2B, RBI; Yocke 2S; Naumann S, 2B; Tighe 2S, 2B, 2RBI, Keys S, Biega, S.
MADONNA (12-4): Mogan (3K, 2BB), T. Fuscardo (WP, 1K, 0BB) and Silvestri; Linder 3S, 2RBI; Silvestri 3S, RBI; Comis 2S, 2R; L. Fuscardo 2S, 2R; Baire 2S, RBI.