CHARLESTON - For the second time in three years the Madonna baseball team has a chance to win the West Virginia Class A state championship.
That opportunity came in the form of a 6-1 victory against nemesis Charleston Catholic on Saturday night at Appalachian Power Park.
The Blue Dons take the field at approximately 7:30 tonight on the same field against East Hardy, a 10-0 winner against Valley-Fayette.
This win was personal for Madonna senior Nick Battista.
"We really wanted this game," he said. "They ended my season in golf and in basketball. This was a little redemption."
"It sure feels good to finally beat them," Blue Dons senior Connor Mogan said. "Defensively we played well. Nick was really solid up the middle ... so was Kaleb (Baire), and Ross (Comis) made every play that came to him at third.
"Everyone in the outfield also made their plays. We played well."
That redemption started early as Madonna scored twice in the bottom of the first inning.
Comis was hit by a pitch and Logan Linder promptly doubled to the right field wall. Mogan reached on a catcher's interference and back-to-back walks to Chris Duerr and Nick Ossman plated the two runs.
Although the Blue Dons left the bases loaded, the start was exactly what the doctor, and coach, Jeff Baire ordered.
"Early runs never are important, they never make a team relax," Baire said with a smile. "That was huge and we did it with only one hit. It was us being patient enough to take pitches until we got something that we could hit and it ended up working out very well for us."
"Those runs made me comfortable," said Linder, the starting and winning pitcher. "I knew I could throw strikes and get ahead. I didn't have to worry about them scoring one run."
"Those two runs took a big weight off our shoulders," Duerr added. "I know it took a big weight off my shoulders behind the plate. I know it had to relax everyone else."
Madonna added three in the bottom of the third inning.
Duerr began the frame with a seeing-eye single to center. He stole second and scored on Ossman's double. Will Bowser singled to left and went to second on an error for second and third with one out. Battista flipped a single to right with two outs to score the pair.
"That was one of my biggest hits of the year," Battista said. "I just took the outside pitch to right field. I was looking for that fastball he had been throwing to me and he gave it to me."
"That hit was a lot of help," said Linder. "It helped take a lot of pressure off a lot of people.
"We've been playing great lately. We're not trying to play any better than we are. We're just trying to do what we can do. "
Charleston Catholic scored a run in the top of the fourth, but Madonna added one in the fifth when Bowser tripled to dead center with two outs and scored when Daniel Pietranton's grounder was booted.
Linder did the rest.
"Logan pitched a great game," Baire. said "He's our guy. He's pitched here before. This is the third time we've been down here in the past four years and I really think that helped us. It also helped that we had played Charleston Catholic before (a 9-8 win in April). It's different when you come down here and play some team you know or some team you are seeing for the first time.
"The way we have been playing defense lately is a big departure than the way we played defense in that eight, nine-game stretch in the middle of the season. It's becoming more consistent. Our defense has gotten us to where we've been for the past five years.
"It's nice to see us playing defense like that again.
"Nick has been phenomenal at shortstop. Some of the plays he made Our outfield played well. Our infield played well and Logan pitched phenomenally.
"It was a great team win."
And, one more to play.