WEIRTON - There will be a new West Virginia Class A state baseball champion in 2013. The defending champs, Madonna, went down Wednesday 8-5 to Bishop Donahue in the loser's bracket of the Region 1, Section 1 tournament.
The win puts the Bishops into a game today at 7 p.m. against tournament unbeaten Wheeling Central at Ed Bowman Field. They must beat Wheeling Central twice to win the section title.
"The kids didn't quit," said Madonna coach T.J. Brancazio, who became the head coach just before the season began, after former head coach Jeff Baire was fired the first week of March. "With all the adversity they had, they fought all the way to the very end. I told them that after the game.
ALL SMILES EARLY — Weirton Madonna’s Nick Ossman comes off the field early in Wednesday’s West Virginia Class A?Region 1, Section 1 tournament at Bowman Field. The Blue Dons were eliminated by Bishop Donahue, 8-5.
-- Fred Younce
"They're young, mostly sophomores and juniors. We graduate only two seniors. We'll be back next year."
Brancazio said he talked to the team about what needs to be done to prepare for next year and one of the things they'll work on is getting runners home from third base with less than two outs.
The Blue Dons had 10 hits, but left eight runners on base and left runners at third base in the second, fourth and sixth innings.
Meanwhile, Bob Kleeh, Bishop Donahue coach, was pleased with the timely hitting he got from his team and the good pitching effort from junior Hunter Kaschke. After losing to Madonna during the regular season, Kaschke was facing the Blue Dons in tournament play for the second time in six days and won both times. He beat them 2-1 last Friday for the OVAC Class 1A championship.
"I knew it was going to be a competitive game," Kleeh said. "I was just hoping we didn't have the relapse we had in the sixth inning Monday night."
In that one, the Bishops had an 8-2 lead and allowed the Blue Dons to rally for six runs to tie the game. Madonna went on to win in walk-off fashion 11-10.
"We had a slight relapse and started to throw the ball around a little bit, we got our composure back and Hunter pitched a nice game for us," Kleeh continued. "We got the timely hits when we needed them."
The Blue Dons struck quickly in the first inning. With one out, sophomore Kaleb Baire singled to right field and Luca Fuscardo ripped a double down the left field line to put runners and third and second.
Will Bowser, who has been on a tear over the last week, promptly drilled a single between second and first to drive both home.
However, starting pitcher Nick Mazur, another sophomore, couldn't hold it as the Bishops scored two runs off him in the top of the second. They got two hits in the inning, but a costly error started the rally.
Kaschke reached on the error and Alex Riedel followed with a single to right field putting runners at first and third. Brett Moore, who was the courtesy runner for Kaschke scored when Lane LeMasters hit into a fielders choice and after being wild pitched to second and third LeMasters scored when Bryce Jones singled to left field.
The Bishops went ahead for good in the third inning with a run. Joe Myers, who led off the inning with a single, scored from third on Matt Vucelik's sacrifice fly to center field.
The Bishops put the game away when they added four runs in the fourth inning chasing Mazur. Will Bowser came on in relief with the bases loaded and only one out. He walked in a run, but struck out two to retire the side. Bowser finished the game giving up a single run in the fifth inning, but he struck on 9 batters in just 3 and 2/3 innings.
Madonna couldn't recover from that big inning. It rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the sixth scoring two runs on a wild pitch and error. Tory Fuscardo's RBI single brought home Fargo Camerlango, a pinch runner for Mazur, who had singled.
Mazur, who gave up seven runs on five hits plus six walks, was the loser.
Kaschke went the distance for the win giving up 10 hits while walking two and striking out five.
Bishop Donahue 8, Madonna 5
Donahue 021 410 0 - 8 9 2
Madonna 200 003 0 - 5 10 3
BISHOP DONAHUE: Kaschke (2BB, 5K) and Riedel. Myers 2S, 2R, RBI; Smith 2S, 2RBI; Riedel S; Jones 2S, R, RBI; Truex D, R; Cunningham S, 2R.
MADONNA: Mazur (LP, 6BB, 2K), Bowser (4th, 5BB, 9K) and Silvestri. Baire 2S, R; L. Fuscardo D, S, R; Bowser S, 2RBI; Ossman D; Silvestri 2S; Mazur S; T. Fuscardo S, RBI.