WEIRTON - The Cameron baseball team made some mistakes Tuesday night and Madonna capitalized to win a West Virginia Class A Region One semifinal, 11-1 at Ed Bowman Field.
Playing what they call ''Donball,'' the Blue Dons put pressure on the Dragons defense in each of the four innings they batted.
''We talked before the game about putting pressure on and being consistent with it,'' said victorious coach Jeff Baire, whose team moves on the regional final at the winner of today's game between Parkersburg Catholic and Gilmer County. ''It is tough for the opposition's defense to play when we put pressure on them, but we have a tendency this season to score some runs early and then get complacent. Sometimes we seem to think that the game is done.''
PHOTO BY FRED YOUNCE
Cameron hitter Austin Pegg connects for a single during regional semifinal action against Madonna.
The Blue Dons (22-9) scored twice in each of the first two innings and then added four runs in the bottom of the third inning and three more in the fourth for the mercy-rule victory. Six of Madonna's runs were unearned.
''It could have very easily been a 2-1 ballgame with those errors,'' Cameron coach, Eric James said. ''There were two balls hit that were routine plays that led to six runs, so we contributed to our own demise. Then, their pitcher had us back on our heels offensively.''
He was referring to Blue Dons sophomore left-hander, Luca Fuscardo. Although he threw a total of 92 pitches in the five innings he pitched, Fuscardo limited the Dragons to three hits. He walked four and struck out five.
''Luca did a nice job, but he struggled a little with his pitch count by not working ahead of the batters,'' Baire said. ''When pitchers do that, it gives the batter a big advantage. We have stressed that with our pitchers all season. When Luca worked ahead of the hitters he had very little trouble.''
Ryan Hughes was the losing pitcher yielding 10 hits and three walks. He struck out two and hit a batter.
The Blue Dons jumped on the board early with Nick Battista and Ross Comis, the first two batters, ripping the first two pitches that Hughes threw. Comis' hit was a double.
After an out, Connor Mogan worked Hughes for a walk to load the bases for senior catcher Chris Duerr, who laced the first pitch he saw to center field driving home Battista and Comis.
Cameron got one of the runs back in the top of the second when Fuscardo walked Ivan Hall on four pitches to open the inning. Austin Pegg followed with a single to left field as Hall stopped at second base. Duerr attempted a throw down to second, but it got away from shortstop Battista allowing Hall to get to third base. He scored on a Blue Dons error.
Comis, who had two hits, scored two runs and drove in another, scored behind Dan Pietranton in the second inning when a Logan Linder ground ball to second base was muffed for one of the routine plays James was walking about.
It was not a good day for the Cameron second baseman as he had a high pop-up go off his glove in the bottom of the third inning with the bases loaded. With two outs, all three of the Blue Dons were on the move and scored as the ball caromed into center field.
''This is a tough place for us to play,'' said James, whose team finished with a 20-9 record. ''Madonna has been here before and knows how to play in the playoffs and I believe they will go a long way. But I don't want this game to take away from the hard work my kids have put in all season to win 20 games.''
Battista, Comis and Mogan each contributed two hits while Linder, Nick Ossman, Duerr, Fuscardo and Will Bowser each delivered a hit. Duerr drove in two runs while Battista, Fuscardo and Bowser each knocked one home.
''While we didn't expect to win this game by 10 runs, we feel the potential this team has could do it,'' Baire added. ''When you look at our lineup with veteran players from top to bottom, we have everyone that can hit. I think a lot of it is the mental approach that we need to have like we had (Tuesday) putting that pressure on the opponents.''