Six errors sink Sissonville
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Magnolia is good enough on its own that it doesn't need extra outs. But that's just what Sissonville provided Saturday afternoon.
Zach Willhoite worked a complete game and the state-ranked Blue Eagles combined 11 of their own hits with six Indians errors to record an 11-4 victory during the opener of a prep baseball triangular in Sissonville.
All 11 runs for Magnolia were unearned because of Indians' miscues.
The Blue Eagles (8-1), the No. 3 team in the Gazette's Class A state ratings, only scored in two innings - six in the second and five in the fourth - but it was more than enough. Sissonville committed three errors in each of those big innings.
"We gave it to them, no doubt about it,'' said Sissonville coach Kenny Harper. "They're a good ballclub, but we can't hand them stuff, hand them runs. I don't think my guys were ready to play ball today. I don't know where they were.''
Willhoite allowed seven hits to the Indians (5-8), but was reached for only two earned runs. He struck out six - fanning the side in the seventh inning - and walked two. Willhoite was also busy in the field with five assists and one putout.
Five different Blue Eagles donated at least two hits, led by a 3-for-5 effort from Tanner Hanna. Chandler Sapp, Kyle Elliott and Chase Miller were all 2 for 5 and Ryan Walton 2 for 4.
Magnolia, which beat Valley - another state-ranked team - right after its game with Sissonville, wasn't entirely sharp in its opener, either, committing two errors with two passed balls and allowing the Indians to swipe a dozen bases. The Blue Eagles dropped two foul pops in the later innings.
"We have got a little bit of talent,'' said Dave Cisar, Magnolia's veteran coach, after the first game. "We're 7-1, and we swung the bats pretty well today, but defense wins games and we looked like we'd rather have been in the swimming pool than playing defense today. We were lethargic, unemotional and plain downright dead.
"Am I satisfied with 11-4? I'll take the win, but I'm not satisfied with how we played because we're a better team than that and I coach much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much better than what we looked on the field today.''
Sissonville had a couple of highlights in the first game, with J.R. Stricklen going 3 for 3 with an RBI and three stolen bases and sophomore reliever Robbie Phillips holding Magnolia scoreless over the final three innings with two punchouts.
However, the multitude of unearned runs ensured that it would be a losing day for the youthful Indians, who started three freshmen and played four in all.
"It's the freshmen,'' Harper said, "but at some point, you've got to quit blaming it on them being freshmen. It's a little ground ball going between your legs. You've got to quit doing that, and I think they will. It's a matter of time.
"Plus, playing every day doesn't leave time for [working on] anything. We haven't jelled together yet, but they will.''
The Greyhounds received two hits apiece from Raeshawn Breckenridge, Drew Jones and Mark Hess and left-hander Arik McGinnis went the distance on a five-hitter, striking out seven and walking three.
The Greyhounds' Cody Winter held the Indians hitless through the first five innings before Sissonville (6-8) struck for six runs in the sixth, helped initially by a walk and an error.
Phillips held Valley to two runs - one each in the sixth and seventh - to secure the win. Joe Eckert went 2 for 4 with an RBI for Valley (8-4), the No. 6 team in Class A.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.