Bishop Donahue tops Dons

WHEELING – When Bishop Donahue junior Jesse Padlow got into jams Monday at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex, he seemed to be at his best. Madonna had several opportunities to come through with a big hit, but Padlow and his defense escaped almost every time.

Behind the right-hander’s complete-game effort in a game that started six days earlier and a timely hit or two, the Bishops (12-10) took down the Blue Dons (19-5) by a 5-2 count and moved into the driver’s seat in the West Virginia Class A Region One, Section One Tournament. Madonna and Wheeling Central will meet in an elimination game at 6 p.m. today back at I-470, with the survivor needing to defeat Bishop Donahue twice.

”That’s only a step,” Bishops coach Bob Kleeh said. ”We’re going against two teams that have a history of winning state titles, in Central and Madonna.

”We’re just trying to get our head in the door and we’re not there yet. We’ve still got to win one more and both of these teams are capable of beating us twice.”

It wasn’t the usual steady performance by the Blue Dons, who most anointed the favorite to come out of this section and eventually qualify for the state tournament and make some noise once there. Coach Tim Provenzano’s club was guilty of six errors, which were magnified even more by the close score.

”We just didn’t show up. We didn’t get up for this game and our normal selves weren’t here, to say the least,” Provenzano said. ”You can’t have (six) errors and expect to win a game like this. It’s a simple game – catch the ball, throw the ball.

”Hopefully we come out (today) with the team we normally are, take that game and go back and give Bishop a run for their money.”

The scoreless game resumed in the top of the second and the Bishops, with help from their counterparts, got a quick run. Andrew Cunningham, who reached on a fielder’s choice, scored as Bryce Jones whiffed for the final out of the inning. The ball got away and was eventually was thrown past the first baseman’s head for a 1-0 lead.

Madonna looked poised to strike in the bottom half but couldn’t get a run home despite having the bases loaded. Will Bowser doubled but was victimized by a line drive into the glove of Bishops first baseman Chaice Truex, who turned two.

Dom Silvestri followed with a single and back-to-back walks to Nick Mazur and Hunter Payne filled the sacks with two down, but Padlow retired Caleb Baire on a flyout to left to end the threat.

”I told him he was out there for a reason, and after he struggled through that second inning he pitched a fine ballgame,” Kleeh said of Padlow. ”He’s coming along and he’s a competitor.

”He knows how to pitch and he wasn’t throwing anything down the middle of the plate.”

It remained 1-0 until the fifth, and that’s when Bishop Donahue put a three-spot on the board. A walk, two errors and an RBI single off the bat of Truex did the damage, and that was important because the Blue Dons came out swinging in the sixth.

Luca Fuscardo led off with a double to right and would have scored a batter later if Bishops shortstop Bryce Jones hadn’t leaped to snare a flare off the bat of Ross Comis.

He did score a batter later on a ringing triple by Bowser, who came home on a Silvestri groundout to make it 4-2 heading to the seventh.

”Their shortstop makes a great play on Ross Comis and if that ball drops, it’s a different complexion,” Provenzano said. ”There were a couple situations in that game where we could have blown it open.

”When it’s not your day, it’s not your day.”

The Bishops tacked on an insurance run as Hunter Kaschke reached on an error and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

”We should have some confidence but we’ve been around the block with these two baseball teams, and all of the time in this sectional we’ve come up short,” Kleeh said. ”We’ve got a lot of work to do to close this out.”

Bowser was saddled with the loss despite striking five and allowing only five hits. Padlow struck out two and scattered seven hits.