Donahue wins 1A title over Madonna

TORONTO – Often in baseball it is the little things that count most.

Weirton Madonna made two costly mistakes in Friday’s OVAC Class 1A championship game and despite an outstanding pitching performance by junior Luca Fuscardo, dropped a 2-1 decision to Bishop Donahue at the Knight Baseball Complex.

On the other hand, the Bishops, who went into the OVAC tournament as the top seed, made plays when they needed them and got a good pitching performance of its own from junior Hunter Kaschke. It was the third straight OVAC championship for the Bishops.

“We got two runs,” said victorious coach Bob Kleeh. “We didn’t get many, but we had enough to get it done. We seem to play good up here, the last three years anyway. Whatever comes out, I wish we could do it all year. In this game we played really well and we had to to beat a good team like Madonna. We made some good plays in key situations.

“We have to field the ball well, which we’ve had problems with this year, to win a close game like this. I’m really proud of them.

“That kid (Fuscardo) is a heck of a pitcher. For us to get two runs off of him is a lot of hard work.”

The Bishops struck for both of their runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-out double by Alex Riedel that brought home Joe Myers and Phillip Smith.

Prior to the short-and-swift scoring strike by the Bishops, Fuscardo had mowed down 10 straight, nine of them on strikeouts. Fuscardo struck out the first eight Bishops who came to the plate.

However, it was a costly error by the lanky junior lefthander that set up the Bishop Donahue runs.

Joe Myers rifled a single through the hole between shortstop and third base for the first Bishop Donahue hit of the game. Smith dribbled a swinging bunt to the right of the mound that Fuscardo fielded cleanly but he had to hurry his throw to first base and sailed the ball past first baseman Mike Rogers for a two-base error.

Fuscardo induced Hunter Kaschke, the Bishop Donahue cleanup batter, to loft a short fly ball out to right field for the second out, but Riedel crushed a pitch to deep left center field that plated the two runs. Riedel attempted to stretch it into a triple and was thrown out at third base.

In the top of the fifth inning, Madonna got something going off of Kaschke when second baseman Fargo Camerlango drew the only Blue Don walk of the game. Senior Tory Fuscardo ripped a line drive up the right center field alley and as the two Blue Dons raced around the base paths, there was a miscue that saw Camerlango get caught in a rundown between third base and home plate. He was tagged out trying to get home as Fuscardo, who was credited with a double, reached third base. However, the rally ended when Rogers hit a liner right at the left fielder for the third out.

“We never blame a coach or an individual player for one play that happens like that,” said Madonna coach, T. J. Brancazio, whose team had beaten the Bishops in both meetings during the regular season. “There are a lot of other plays throughout the game, so one play generally doesn’t beat you.

“We didn’t get as many hits as we would have liked and we had that error. They (Bishop Donahue) played well enough to win. They only had two hits, but it was enough. Fuscardo pitched a gem with 13 strikeouts, including eight of the first nine batters. When you get an effort like that on the mound you want to support him with some runs but we didn’t do it tonight.”

Kaschke was very effective as well. The junior right hander scattered six hits, walked one and struck out two.

“Hunter is coming along,” Kleeh said. “Since his freshman year, he is getting stronger and stronger. I’m really proud of him because he shows up in a big game, too.”

Madonna scored its lone run in the top of the sixth inning when Luca Fuscardo got a one-out single. He came around to score when the next batter, Will Bowser, crushed a 1-2 pitch to the wall over the right fielder’s head for an RBI triple.

Bowser, who normally is the starting center fielder for the Blue Dons, was a late scratch from the defense because of a jammed thumb.

Brancazio said Bowser could bat, but had difficulty throwing the baseball so he changed his lineup at the last minute making Bowser the designated hitter.

The junior was 3 for 3 adding two singles to his triple. Bowser has hit safely in his last eight at bats.

Ironically, the same teams will meet Monday when Madonna hosts the Class A Region 1, Section 1 tournament at Ed Bowman Field. Game time is 6:30 p.m.