ST. MARYS - Ed Wilson didn't have to pull the plug and as a result the St. Marys baseball team has solidified a berth in next week's Class A state tournament in Charleston for the first time since 1990, which just happens to be Wilson's first season with the program.
By defeating Bishop Donahue 6-3 in a Region I championship Friday at Dave Wilson Field, the Blue Devils not only completed an undefeated home record of 20-0 but also received the right to meet Man in Thursday's second semifinal game. The first Class A semifinal game is slated for a 4:30 p.m. start.
"It's a great feeling that we're going to Charleston," Wilson said. "It's been a long time coming. Last year we reached the regional final against Magnolia and got beat, and I told the guys to remember that feeling we had last time. I told them I didn't want that feeling this year."
Photos by Kerry Patrick
St, Marys pitcher Michael Stout delivers a pitch against Bishop Donahue in Friday night’s regional championship game. The Blue Devils won, 6-3, to punch their ticket to the state tournament, beginning next Thursday.
Members of the St. Marys baseball team celebrate their regional victory by hoisting the trophy. Team members are, from left, Robbie Harper, Garrett Furr, Johnny Riggs and coach Ed Wilson.
Backed up by a four-run first inning against Bishop Donahue, St. Marys turned to left-handed starting pitcher Michael Stout. Last year as a sophomore, Stout took the mound in a similar setting but the Blue Devils lost to Magnolia in the regional final.
Friday night was a completely different story as Stout struck out 10 and scattered five hits while pitching a complete game victory. The leash was tight down the stretch as Stout went the distance.
"I was hoping to get revenge from last year," Stout said. "I didn't come through for the team last year, but I was glad to come through this year.
"I felt outstanding on the mound. My fastball was working really well and I was locating my pitches. At one point, coach Wilson told me if I started to get into trouble he was going to sub for me. I told him that I had this and I was going to finish."
St. Marys improves to 29-2, while Bishop Donahue completes the campaign at 14-12. The Bishops claimed their first sectional title in 22 years.
"The first inning is what cost us," Bishop Donahue coach Bob Kleeh said. "We stood our ground after that, but we couldn't get anything going at the plate. We used our one and two pitchers to get by last night against Magnolia, but we just didn't hit tonight."
After Stout retired the side in order in the top of the first inning, St. Marys didn't waste any time establishing a lead. In the home half of the first, Robbie Harper led off with walk and Chad Hofstetter singled to put runners at first and second for Jarrod Lough, who ripped an offering from Hunter Kaschke into the gap in left-center field for a two-run double.
Matt Houser was hit by a pitch and the runners advanced one base on a wild pitch to set up Johnny Riggs' RBI grounder. Houser scored on Tyler Davis' single to right field to give the Blue Devils a 4-0 advantage.
Bishop Donahue, which completed a remarkable seventh-inning comeback the night before against Magnolia, didn't end Stout's shutout bid until a three-run fifth inning. Brett Moore's RBI triple and Kaschke's run-scoring double highlighted the resurgence.
The Bishops, however, managed just one baserunner in the final 2 1-3 innings.
St. Marys tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Riggs blasted a shot which hit the base of the fence in right-center field to drive in Houser, while Michael Fox hit a sacrifice fly.
Bishop Donahue used just about every pitcher available after utilizing a total of four hurlers in six innings. Kaschke took the loss after lasting just one inning.