WEIRTON - Wheeling Central exploded for five runs in the second inning, tacked on another in the sixth and outlasted Madonna 6-4 Tuesday night to put themselves in the driver's seat of the West Virginia Class A Region One, Section Four tournament at Ed Bowman Field.
The Maroon Knights are off until Thursday when they will play the winner of tonight's losers bracket game between Madonna and Bishop Donahue.
"It only puts us in the driver's seat for (Tuesday)," said Maroon Knights coach Jimbo Wodusky, whose club won its eighth game against 16 losses.
Wheeling Central’s Jeff Gwynn slides into second base for a successful steal during Tuesday’s game in Weirton.
"In this tournament, the teams are so evenly matched that any of the three teams are capable of winning two games in a row. So I'm going to enjoy (Tuesday) and feel like I'm in the driver's seat, but come Thursday I'm going to be like its no wins against no wins."
With one out in the bottom of the second, his Maroon Knights pounced on Madonna junior Luca Fuscardo with four straight hits to plate the first three runs of the game. A Blue Dons error kept the inning going and winning pitcher Nick Naumann capped it off with a RBI double to the left center field gap to make it 5-0.
Fuscardo, who only gave up the five hits in the second inning, had very little trouble through the other four innings he pitched. His cousin, Tory Fuscardo, came on in the bottom of the sixth inning and was nicked for an insurance run.
Meanwhile the Blue Dons, after defeating Bishop Donahue in a walkoff 11-10 game Tuesday night, struggled to score runs.
"We waited till we got down five runs before we started hitting the ball," Blue Dons coach T. J. Brancazio said. "We booted about four or five balls that led to them having that big inning.
"But we couldn't get the timely hits again. We had the bases loaded in the fourth and couldn't score then we had a runner at third with one out in the sixth and couldn't get him home to tie the game.
"Now we have to battle back the hard way by winning three straight. It's not going to be easy, but it can be done and our kids believe they can do it so we'll give it a run."
After the Maroon Knights scored their five spot in the bottom of the second, the Blue Dons answered with two runs in the top of the third. Luca Fuscardo blasted a triple up the right center field alley sending Anthony Antinone and Mike Rogers home.
Catcher Dom Silvestri started the inning with his ground ball being misplayed. Antinone was the courtesy runner for Silvestri and went to second when Rogers walked.
Madonna scratched out its other two runs in the top of the fifth inning while getting just one hit, Kaleb Baire's leadoff single. Baire and Luca Fuscardo, who followed him with a walk, scored runs when the Maroon Knights had trouble making plays.
Madonna only had two hits in the game, but had runners on base nearly every inning earning six walks off Naumann.
"That is very uncharacteristic of Nick," Wodusky explained. "He seldom walks batters. He hasn't pitched in 12 or 13 days so he might have been a little rusty. That and I think he started to think too much about the game instead of just being a pitcher."