GLEN DALE - Weirton Madonna did a little bit of everything in Monday's 10-4 victory against Wheeling Central.
Logan Linder struck out nine in earning a victory, Chris Duerr got the scoring started with a home run over the right-field fence and the Blue Dons went error-free with some fundamentally sound defense.
But what pleased Coach Jeff Baire the most was the small ball.
GREETING AT HOME — Weirton Madonna’s Chris Duerr is about to be greeted at home plate by his teammates after a solo home run in the second inning of Monday’s 10-4 victory against Wheeling Central in the West Virginia Class A Region I, Section 1 Tournament at Monarch Field. The Blue Dons face Bishop Donahue today on the same field.
-- Josh Strope
Weirton Madonna scored seven runs in the fifth inning on six hits - only one left the infield - in the opening game of the West Virginia Section One Tournament at Monarch Field.
''We did a good job of putting pressure on the defense,'' Baire said. ''What happened with us was we would get guys on second or third and we'd have guys who would traditionally not come through. So instead of taking a chance on having no runs scored, we decided to try and push a few across.
''Other people do it to us and we work on it in practice all the time. It was time we started doing it. We have been fortunate with Max Nogay and Louie Comis where we didn't have to play small ball. This year, a little bit different team and we are starting to change our approach.''
Weirton Madonna returns to Monarch Field at 5 p.m. today to face No. 1 seed Bishop Donahue. The Bishops won the two previous meetings, including winning the OVAC Class 1A title.
Wheeling Central will play the loser of that game Wednesday in an elimination contest.
The Blue Dons went into the fifth inning leading 2-0 following a Duerr homer in the second and Ross Comis coming around to score on a throwing error in the third.
Dan Pietranton led off the fifth with a walk, followed by back-to-back bunt singles by Nick Battista and Comis. Linder drew a bases-loaded walk, followed by a two-run single up the middle by Connor Mogan.
Wheeling Central coach Jimbo Wodusky replaced starter Nick Naumann with Kyle Phair, but the result was much of the same.
Phair was welcomed by a two-run single from Luca Fuscardo. Nick Ossman scored on a groundout from Will Bowser and Pietranton singled in Fuscardo in his second at-bat of the inning as the Blue Dons went up 9-0.
''I have been saying it since I've been a head coach that in Single-A baseball, you have to learn how to play small ball,'' Wodusky said. ''In order to play small ball, you have to be able to defend it. We couldn't defend it so we got ourselves in a hole so big that we couldn't even play it and took us out of our game plan.''
Wheeling Central couldn't get anything going against Linder and it wasn't until Baire went to Tory Fuscardo that the Maroon Knights were able to score any runs.
Phair hit a bases-clearing double off Fuscardo (although the runs are charged to Linder) but it was a little too late.
''(Linder) was on,'' Wodusky said. ''He was hitting the corners. His slider was biting, his curveball was biting, his fastball was working and we weren't having very good at-bats early. He is probably the best in the class and it's tough to overcome especially when you let him get ahead of you.''
Wodusky still believes his young team can bounce back and avoid elimination Wednesday and win the sectional. Baire would like to see his team finally get one on the Bishops and let the two rivals battle it out.
''They are going to come out and be really sound,'' Baire said of Bishop Donahue.
''What we have to do, and what hurt us against them before, is making the routine play.
''If we can do that, it is going to be another great game. Great game No. 3.''
Weirton Madonna 10, Wheeling Central 4
Wheeling Central 000 003 1 - 4 9 3
Weirton Madonna 011 071 x - 10 12 0
WHEELING CENTRAL: Naumann (LP, 3K, 2BB), Phair (5, 0K, 2BB) and Yocke; Keys 3S, rbi; Phair D, 3rbi
WEIRTON MADONNA: Linder (WP, 9K, 3BB), T.Fuscardo (6, 1K, 1BB) and Duerr; Battista 2S; Comis 3S; Linder rbi; Mogan S, D, 2rbi; Duerr HR, 2rbi; Ossman 2S; L.Fuscardo S, 2rbi; Bowser rbi; Pietranton S, rbi.