WEIRTON -Wheeling Central exploded for five runs in the second inning, tacked on another in the sixth and outlasted Madonna 6-4 Tuesday night to put themselves in the driver's seat of the Region 1, Section 1, Class A tournament going on this week at Ed Bowman Field.
The Maroon Knights will wait until Thursday when they will play the winner of Thursday's losers bracket game between Madonna and Bishop Donahue.
"It only puts us in the driver's seat for tonight," said Maroon Knight coach, Jimbo Wodusky, whose club was winning its eighth game against 16 losses. "In this tournament, the teams are so evenly matched that any of the three teams are capable of winning two games in a row. So I'm going to enjoy tonight and feel like I'm in the driver's seat, but come Thursday I'm going to be like it's no wins against no wins."
SAFE AT THIRD — Madonna’s Luca Fuscardo slides safely into third with a two-run triple during the Blue Dons’ 6-4 loss to Wheeling Central Tuesday at Ed Bowman Field.
-- Fred Younce
With one out in the bottom of the second, his Maroon Knights pounced on Madonna junior Luca Fuscardo with four straight hits to plate the first three runs of the game. A Blue Don error kept the inning going and winning pitcher Nick Naumann capped it off with an RBI double to the left center field gap to make it 5-0.
Fuscardo, who only gave up the five hits in the second inning, had very little trouble through the other four innings he pitched. His cousin, Tory Fuscardo, came on in the bottom of the sixth inning and was nicked for an insurance run.
Meanwhile the Blue Dons, after defeating Bishop Donahue in a walkoff 11-10 game Tuesday night, struggled to score runs.
"We waited till we got down five runs before we started hitting the ball," said Blue Don coach T.J. Brancazio. "We booted about four or five balls that led to them having that big inning.
"But we couldn't get the timely hits again tonight. We had the bases loaded in the fourth and couldn't score then we had a runner at third with one out in the sixth and couldn't get him home to tie the game.
"Now we have to battle back the hard way by winning three straight. It's not going to be easy, but it can be done and our kids believe they can do it, so we'll give it a run."
After the Maroon Knights scored their five spot in the bottom of the second, the Blue Dons answered with two runs in the top of the third. Luca Fuscardo blasted a triple up the right center field alley sending Anthony Antinone and Mike Rogers home.
Catcher Dom Silvestri started the inning with his ground ball being misplayed. Antinone was the courtesy runner for Silvestri and went to second when Rogers walked.
Madonna scratched out its other two runs in the top of the fifth inning while getting just one hit, Kaleb Baire's leadoff single. Baire and Luca Fuscardo, who followed him with a walk, scored runs when the Maroon Knights had trouble making plays.
Madonna only had two hits in the game, but had runners on base nearly every inning earning six walks off of Maroon Knight pitcher, Nick Naumann.
"That is very uncharacteristic of Nick," Wodusky explained. "He seldom walks batters. He hasn't pitched in 12 or 13 days so he might have been a little rusty. That and I think he started to think too much about the game instead of just being a pitcher."
Wodusky brought in sophomore Nate Bakaitis, who started the game at second base, in the top of the sixth inning when Naumann walked Madonna senior, Tory Fuscardo, to start the inning. Bakaitis shut the door to earn the save.
Wheeling Central 6, Madonna 4
Madonna 002 020 0 - 4 2 3
Wheeling Central 050 001 x - 6 7 3
MADONNA: L. Fuscardo (LP, 3BB, 5K), T. Fuscardo (6th, 0BB, 0K) and Silvestri. L. Fuscardo 3B, r, 2RBI; Baire S, R; Rogers R; Antinone R.
WHEELING CENTRAL: Neumann (WP, 6BB, 3K), Bakaitis (1K, 0BB) and Yocke. Bakaitis 2B, S, 2RBI, R; Burch 2S, 2R; Naumann 2B, RBI; Hammers S, R; Peroni 2B, R, RBI.