Madonna eliminates SJC in OVAC Baseball
WEIRTON – The Madonna baseball team did enough to get the job done.
The Blue Dons raced out to a 7-0 lead in their OVAC Class 1A Tournament Semifinal against Bellaire St. John Central Saturday night before holding for a 9-4 victory over the Irish Saturday night at Bowman Field.
“A win is a win,” first-year Madonna (13-4) head coach Tim Provenzano said. “We got some other kids in the game. We made some mass substitutions. We wanted to give some other kids playing time to see how they would do.”
Despite the early deficit, the Irish did not give up, and St. John Central ended up making things a little interesting in a game not many people expected to go more than five innings.
“I’m sure a lot of people didn’t expect it to go seven innings,” St. John’s (4-5) head coach Shawn Selmon said. “Our kids never quit. They kept fighting. They don’t give up. For years, that wasn’t the case at St. John’s, but these kids won’t do that.”
Will Bowser picked up the win for the top-seeded Blue Dons. Bowser struck out 11 without walking two in his five innings of work on the mound. Michael Rogers struck out one and walked two in his inning of work in the sixth, and Luca Fuscardo struck out one in his one inning on the mound.
“Will pitched a great game,” Provenzano said. “You can’t ask for anything more. Luca came in and closed it out.”
Offensively, Madonna pounded out nine hits. Individually, Ross Comis contributed a single, a double and two RBI, Kaleb Baire recorded a double and an RBI and Fuscardo finished with a single and a triple. Also, Vince Merico and Domenic Silvestri each collected a single and an RBI, Hunter Payne tallied two base hits and Anthony Antinone added a RBI.
“St. John’s is a quality team,” Provenzano said. “Their coach is doing a great job with the kids. To make the semifinals of the tournament is an accomplishment for any team.”
Quinn Myers took the loss for the fourth-seeded Irish. Myers did not record a strikeout while walking one.
Offensively, Myers helped his own cause with two singles and an RBI, Aaron Rataiczck contributed a single and two RBI and Mason Kull collected a base hit.
“This is the first time in about 14 years St. John’s has qualified for the OVAC playoffs,” Selmon said. “The kids were nervous coming up. There were stories about how tough Madonna was. They are a very good Class A team. They have a lot of class. They have some very-good hitters and fielders.”
The Blue Dons scored two runs in the bottom of the first to take an early 2-0 lead, and Madonna added to its advantage by scoring five more runs in the second inning to increase its lead to 7-0.
“We scored seven runs in the first two innings,” Provenzano said. “The intensity was good. We just have to keep the intensity up throughout the whole game.”
The boys from Hancock County collected a run in the fourth and one more in the fifth to go up 9-0.
“It was a team effort,” Provenzano said. “It doesn’t matter if you are starter; you have to be ready to come off of the bench and produce. Our kids did that today.”
The boys from Belmont County responded in a big way in the sixth as the Irish plated four runs to make the score 9-4, but that was as close as the visitors got the rest of the way.
“Making the tournament is a huge deal for us,” Selmon said. “We made some team goals when I took over. We wanted to make the tournament. We were knocking on the door last year. We made it this year, and we want to win it next year. We are on track to accomplish that. Of course, everybody wants to win it.”
Madonna will face Bishop Donahue in the tournament final at 10 a.m. Saturday at Vaccaro Field in Steubenville.
“This tournament means a lot to us,” Provenzano said. “To be seeded first in the tournament is a big accomplishment. We have a shot to win an OVAC championship. We are well on our way to doing that.”
The Bishops have won the last three tournament titles with the last two victories came against the Blue Dons.
Bishop Donahue, the No. 2 seed, advanced to the tournament finals by defeating No. 3 seed Paden City, 6-0, earlier Saturday.
“Absolutely, this game will give us confidence going into the rest of our season,” Selmon said. “Madonna could have shut the door on us very quickly if they wanted to. They are a very-classy program. This will give us a big boost.”