NEW MARTINSVILLE -Veteran Coach Dave Cisar believes that his youthful Magnolia baseball team is peaking at the right time and could very well be a tough out in the West Virginia Class AA tournament.
If Monday's performance by junior Kyle Elliott and company is any indication, Cisar's bunch may very well be ready to prove him right.
Elliott fired a no-hitter, fanning 13 and walking just one, and also collected three singles and a two-run triple as the Blue Eagles claimed the first game of the best-of-three Region One, Section Two tournament from Tyler Consolidated by a 10-0 count in six frames.
The game was originally slated to be played in Kidwell, but moved at the last minute due to a quick-passing storm. This afternoon's second game will now be played on the Silver Knights' (6-17) field with the deciding game (if necessary) also in Kidwell.
Most of the game was spent with Elliott mowing down Tyler hitters in quick succession. Elliott faced just one over batter over the minimum, walking fellow pitcher Dalton Wells with two down in the first. He then retired the ensuing 15, 12 of them by way of strikeout.
"Kyle Elliott was just superb on the mound," Cisar smiled. "Maybe Tyler hadn't seen anyone like him this season, but he had it all working (Monday). His curve was not hittable and his fastball was just so well-placed.
"But don't get me wrong, I thought their pitcher did a nice job also."
Magnolia (15-11) loaded the bases in the bottom of the first with one out, but only scored one run, that coming as a gift on a third strike wild pitch in which everyone was safe.
It remained just 1-0 heading for the third when Magnolia plated three to get some early insurance. Elliott led off with a single and went to second on a errant pick-off attempt. He made it 2-0 on Zack Wilhoit's run-scoring double down the left-field line.
Wilhoit then scored on Bentley Knight's double to center. Knight made it 4-0 on Jayson Keller's RBI fielder's choice.
A four-spot in the fourth made it 8-0 with Elliott's two-run triple to deep right-center sparking the rally. The Keller brothers, Jayson and Drew, recorded two-out, run-scoring base hits in the bottom of the sixth to send the home crowd to the exits happy.
"We really didn't crush the ball a whole lot, but we did get some timely hits," Cisar said. "And we also played sound defense, which is something that we haven't been able to do our last couple of games.
"You know, we have been pretty close all season long. We may have 11 losses, but we play a very solid AAA schedule, and we have just been so close in so many games.
"With just one big inning here or there our record could be a whole lot better. But I can tell you that I know we will not be an easy out. This is a young and excited group of kids that keep getting better.
"Kyle Elliott has pitched so well and Tanner Hanna and Chandler Sapp have both improved so much. I really think we have a chance."
For Coach Chris Amedro and his Knights, it has been a season of adversity in which they not only lost some players, but also their previous head coach during the season.
But Amedro will make no excuses, and will send his team out today expecting to win.
"Magnolia is a very good team and you never know about them," the John Marshall graduate said. "But maybe we will come back (Tuesday) and play a better game.
"I thought we played some good defense (Monday), and it is definitely improving, but it may just be too little, too late. Elliott did a very good job keeping us off the bases and not letting us get any solid hits. If you can't get on the bases, you can't make anything happen and we weren't able to.
"But I also believe that Dalton Wells pitched a very good game (Monday) as well)."