It’s not always pretty in prep baseball, so winning close, ugly games becomes a necessity.
On Saturday, Magnolia was able to pick up such a victory.
The Blue Eagles made one or two fewer mistakes than host Sissonville and pushed across a run in the top of the seventh to score a 3-2 win.
Zach Willhoite walked to lead off the seventh, stole second base, advanced to third on a flyout to center and then scored on a fielder’s choice to second base off the bat of Tyler Anderson.
“A lot of misfortune both ways,” Magnolia coach Dave Cisar said. “But sometimes when you don’t play your best and you have a five-game winning streak coming in, you’ve got to take what you can take.”
“Sissonville has a good ball club. They’re a bunch of young guys, but they’re seasoned young guys. They gave us a couple of runs and we gave them a couple runs and fortunately they gave us one more than we gave them.”
The Indians (9-7), led by starter Josh Landis, limited the Blue Eagles (8-2) to just three hits with none coming over the final four innings.
But Sissonville committed four errors and allowed two runs to score without a hit in the fifth inning.
Grant King was hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth and advanced to second after a throwing error on a ground ball from Willhoite. King would later score from third on a fielder’s choice after Sissonville first baseman Houston Hill’s throw to home was late on an Anderson ground ball. Willhoite scored next on a sacrifice fly to center from Brandon Mason.
“We beat ourselves with little mistakes and errors,” said Sissonville coach Kenny Harper. “[Reliever Trent] Bodnar walked the guy in the seventh and got him on. We didn’t score anyway, but I don’t think he was quite ready.”
Offensively, Sissonville did itself no favors, either.
The Indians had eight hits in the game and scored one run apiece in the fourth and fifth innings, but were bitten throughout the game by base-running mistakes.
That trend culminated in the seventh,when pinch-runner Tyler Grimm, representing the tying run, was thrown out at third after trying to advance from second on a ground ball to shortstop for the second out of the inning.
Harper said that most of the outs the Indians made on the basepaths were due to aggressive coaching, something he has embraced and will continue to use.
“I don’t mind being aggressive,” Harper said. “If you get half of them, you come out ahead. I’ll do it all day long. I’ll make them make a play. I know we kick the ball around, everybody we play in high school is going to kick it around, so why not do it, go for it?”
All of the miscues took away from a pair of solid pitching performances, as Miller went six innings striking out six and walking four. Magnolia starter Chase Miller lasted 6 1/3 innings and struck out three before Willhoite came in to slam the door in the seventh.
“Miller gave us a real good effort,” Cisar said. “He didn’t throw hard, but sometimes when you see a guy that throws like that, he’s tough. He’s got a little two-seamer that’s dinky, off-speed, and he gave us a chance.”
“Willhoite’s our man. He’s our stopper coming in. He pitched an inning today after pitching five innings on Thursday — real good job, I was happy with him.”
It was the sixth win in a row for the Blue Eagles after losing three Class A first-team all-state selections from last year’s team.
Anderson had a pair of RBIs to lead the Magnolia offense. The Blue Eagles left 11 runners on base.
Chris Linville and Zac Bogess each had a pair of hits for the Indians, with Linville driving in a run in the fifth.
The Indians were dealt another loss later in the day as Ripley scored a 7-3 decision. Magnolia was also set to face the Vikings Saturday.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt