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Dons drop two, look to bounce back today in BOTE

STEUBENVILLE — A good start was undone by a rough finish.

The Madonna baseball team led 3-0 after three innings of play, however, Hiland scored the final 18 runs as the Hawks defeated the Dons, 18-3, in a pool play game of the 34th Edgar Martin Beast of the East Classic Thursday afternoon at Vaccaro Field.

“I thought we played pretty well up until the seventh,” Madonna head coach Jeff Baire said. “That old thing raised its head again.

“This is a great opportunity for us to give some of younger guys some playing time. We had quite a few freshmen out there getting valuable innings of experience.

“It is plain and simple, these guys have taken time off since our last high school game. That is very obvious. You just have to look at our defensive mistakes. When the ball is hit up in the air in the outfield or it’s a popup on the infield, they are looking for someone else to go and get it instead of calling for it and getting it themselves.

“In all honesty, it was a four-run game going into the seventh inning. We have several opportunities to make plays – whether it was a popup on the infield or a ball in the outfield. Instead of coming up and getting the ball, they looked to an infielder or another outfielder to get it.

“We have identified the problem. It’s just a matter of correcting it.”

The loss dropped Madonna to 0-2 on the first day of the tournament. The Ohio Bruisers defeated the Dons, 10-2, in Madonna’s first game of the day.

The Dons scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the third.

The Hawks scored at least three runs in three of the four innings, including plating 11 in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

Madonna used five pitchers.

Grant Wilharm started, and he pitched the first inning. He did not record a strikeout or a walk. Elijah Suznevich came on to start the second, and he ended up taking the loss. Suznevich struck out one and walked two in 3 1/3 innings of relief work. He was replaced with one out in the fifth by Grant Upright. Upright did not strike out a batter while walking four in 2/3 of an inning of work. Upright was replaced during the sixth inning by Jacob Leasure. Leasure pitched 1 1/3 innings. He did not record a strikeout while walking six. Reed Wilharm came on with one out in the seventh, and he pitched the rest of the way. He did not record a strikeout while walking one batter.

Hiland used four pitchers.

Braden Kaufman started and pitched the first 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked five. He was replaced with two outs in the third by Will Schlabach, who ended up picking up the win. He struck out four and walked one in his 1 2/3 innings on the mound. Cody Yoder then pitched the next 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two without walking a batter. Alex Yoder pitched the seventh. He struck out one without walking a batter.

The Hawks outhit the Dons, 12-3.

Individually for Madonna, Mathew Gear recorded an RBI single, Brycen Hair and Reed Wilharm each contributed a base hit and David Connors collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly.

For the Hawks, Nolan Yoder delivered a triple and two RBI, Alec Weaver and Colin Coblentz each recorded a two-run double and Brody Yoder tallied a single, a double and an RBI. Also, Cody Yoder contributed a run-scoring double, Colin Beachy collected two singles and an RBI and Luke Hershberger and Kaufman both finished with a single and an RBI. Finally, Isaak Yoder and Caden Coblentz each tallied a base hit, and Schlabach brought home a run with a sacrifice fly.

“It’s the same thing as the regular season,” Baire said. “They made the regional finals. They are a phenomenal team. The rest of the teams we are Legion teams. We are playing against varsity kids from three or four high schools. We are playing against kids who are a little bit older.

“I like to challenge our kids. I don’t want to see us lose 18-3. We just aren’t throwing strikes. I don’t even want to know how many walks we had today. We aren’t throwing strikes and we aren’t catching popups.”

Hiland plated a run in the fourth to cut its deficit to 3-1 before scoring three runs in the fifth to take the lead at 4-3 and three in the sixth to extend their advantage to 7-3.

“These were our first two games,” Baire said. “We are playing in the Beast of the East. Our 15-year-olds will be playing in the summer after this. A lot of freshmen and sophomores will be getting playing time.

“Reed is in the eighth grade. He was just in the seventh grade, and he was out there pitching against varsity kids. He got his first hit. I like playing in this. This enables to get a lot of experience, especially for our younger guys.”

Madonna is scheduled to play the Ohio Bison 18U at 8 a.m. this morning back at Vaccaro Field before playing Highlands Legion at 3:30 p.m. out at the Edison Unified Sports Complex.

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