NEW MARTINSVILLE - For the first time since West Virginia decided to limit its high school baseball teams to 32 regular-season games, John Marshall has played a full allotment.
And for a squad that had plenty of experience coming into the season, a little more time on the diamond hasn't hurt.
Aaron Fonner blasted a three-run homer and picked up a victory on the hill as the Monarchs tuned up for next week's sectional tournament with a 10-5 triumph against Magnolia at the corner of Main and McEldowney streets.
PHOTO BY RICK THORP
JM’s Aaron Fonner eyes the strike zone Friday against Magnolia.
''The guy (Friday) was Aaron Fonner,'' JM coach Bob Montgomery said. ''He's toed the rubber a few times this year and with his hitting he's been big for us.''
Fonner also doubled and finished with four RBI. He sparked a Monarchs offense that pounded out 13 hits and scored six of its runs in the latter innings, including four in the sixth.
''I like this group,'' said Montgomery, whose team has the bye in the Class AAA Region One, Section One Tournament which begins at 5 on Monday at Brooke High School.
The Monarchs will face the winner of the Park-Brooke opener at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Magnolia, meanwhile, opens its Class AA Region One, Section Two Tournament at 5 p.m. Monday at Tyler Consolidated.
''A guy once said that to win baseball games you have to hit the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball,'' Magnolia coach Dave Cisar said.
''Sometimes we did it pretty well and sometimes we didn't do it so well.
''JM is pretty good and I respect everything they've done because they have a senior-laden team. JM should beat us right now with the experience they have and the experience we don't have.
''But, hey ... never say never. If hard work makes you better we sure as heck are going to get a lot better.''
John Marshall scored three times in the second behind back-to-back doubles from Ryan Gellner and leadoff man Jake Lucas.
The Blue Eagles came back in the bottom of the inning to draw to within one at 3-2. Grant Cain's sac fly scored the first run, with Ryan Walton driving in the second on a single.
Trailing 4-2 in the third, it looked as if if Magnolia was poised to have a big inning. The Blue Eagles loaded the bases with no out, but a flyout, a force out at home and a strikeout ended the threat.
Fonner's blast with one out in the sixth blew the game open and gave JM its biggest lead. The Monarchs' first three batters reached base. Todd Schmidt singled home Lucas to start the scoring before Fonner's shot cleared the left-field fence two batters later.
Magnolia scored twice in the bottom of the inning, and once in the seventh, but drew no closer.
''At one point we were 1-6,'' Montgomery remembered. ''Then, we were down 2-0 at Parkersburg South and ended up winning and our season has been different ever since.''
Lucas backed up Fonner with two doubles among his three hits. Pinch hitter Johnny Cochran added a pair of doubles.
Walton finished with three hits from his leadoff spot.