By RICK THORP
NEW MARTINSVILLE - Through 5 innings, Shenandoah coach Randy Sailing liked the position his team was in Saturday.
Magnolia’s Kyle Elliott takes off from second base Saturday.
The Zeps trailed Magnolia, 1-0, and his ace, James Luyster, had just struck out the first two batters.
Then, just like that, the Blue Eagles awoke.
Ryan Walton's double sparked a four-run inning as Magnolia topped Shenandoah, 6-0, in an OVAC Class 3A baseball semifinal at the Mullett Baseball Complex.
The Blue Eagles (23-1), winners of 19 straight, will play for their seventh OVAC title, and first since 2009, against Linsly at 7:30 Friday night at Steubenville's Vaccaro Field. Linsly is aiming for its 17th conference banner.
''We got timely hits,'' Magnolia coach Dave Cisar stressed.
Especially in the deciding fifth.
The Blue Eagles followed Walton's two-out double with five straight singles. Cisar was simply looking to add another run, but he got much more.
''Our top four or five guys really, really came through ... like they have all year,'' Cisar said. ''Timely hits, I think, win big games. If it's not that, it's a homer or a big error. But (Saturday) it was timely hitting and I'm really proud of my kids.''
Chandler Sapp drove Walton home to make the score 2-0. Kyle Elliott and Zach Wilhoite added RBI singles to make the score 4-0.
Two batter later, Chase Miller added an RBI single to make the count 5-0. Tanner Hanna was the only player to single in the inning and not plate a run.
Until the hitting barrage, Luyster was cruising, having struck out seven, walked three and allowed one hit, an Elliott single in the third.
''He just kinda ran out of gas,'' Sailing said. ''I think the hardest thing to take was they did all that with two outs.
''My hat's off to them. They're an awesome team ... by far the best team we've seen this year.''
The six runs were plenty for Elliott. Magnolia's top pitcher scattered three singles, struck out 12 and walked none in picking up the victory.
Sailing said when he learned the Zeps would face Magnolia's ace he knew his batters were in for a big challenge.
''I knew from the start it was going to be a struggle to win this one,'' he said.
Elliott didn't allow a baserunner after the third inning.
''Kyle Elliott was tough to beat,'' Cisar said. ''But Shenandoah was really aggressive at the plate.''
The Zeps got two runners aboard in the first and one in the second and third.
''The thing about it was we got a few hits, but we didn't have anyone aboard. If we'd had somebody on it could have been a different game, Sailing said.''