Eagles first trip to baseball finals ends in abrupt fashion

PEARL – West Union High School’s hopes of winning its first state title in baseball came to an abrupt end on Friday night at Pearl’s Trustmark Park.

St. Aloysius, the same school that Myrtle beat in 2002 for the 1A state title, finished its two-game sweep of the Eagles with a 13-2 mercy-rule shortened Game 2 win in five innings in front of 800 fans Friday night.

The Flashes won 6-0 in Thursday’s Game 1 of this MHSAA Class 1A best-of-3 championship series.

St. Aloysius’ last state title came in 1976; while this year’s championship series appearance was the first for West Union.

“We just didn’t play well,” said West Union head coach Ashley Russell, whose team ended its season at 18-14. “We just didn’t do the things that we’ve done that have gotten us here.”

The Eagles committed six errors and managed only eight hits in the two games.

A positive for West Union in Game 2 was the fact that the Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Hunter McQuary provided an RBI single and Taylor English’s sacrifice fly scored the Eagles’ second run.

But the St. Aloysius’ bats would awaken in the bottom of the third, and from there the Flashes pieced together their 13 runs.

“I got my team up and told them I just didn’t feel like we were locked in,” said St. Aloysius head coach Clint Wilkerson, whose team finished with a 28-4 mark. “I said, ‘This is the state championship. This is it.’

“I said, ‘Do what we’ve been doing all year long.'”

Sean Weaver hit a three-run triple to highlight a five-run fourth inning for St. Aloysius. West Union starting pitcher Will Basil (9-5) was knocked out of the game in that inning

Basil’s pitching line read: 3 2-3 innings, four hits, seven runs (all earned), five walks and four strikeouts.

Friday’s Game 2 loss was the first postseason loss this year for the sophomore right-hander who entered the game with a perfect 5-0 mark in the playoffs.

“He got us here along with his teammates,” Russell said. “He didn’t have his best stuff.”

Neither did Wesley Jumper, who only lasted a third of an inning in relief of Basil. Jumper allowed four runs on four hits.

Bo Garrett finished the game for the Eagles, pitching the fifth and final inning of the game. He gave up two of the six runs scored by the Flashes in the top half of the fifth.

“We just never could get it stopped,” Russell said. “And our pitching was what really got us here.”

St. Aloysius starter Ryno Martin-Nez (6-2) put a halt to West Union’s offense after the first inning. The only other hit Martin-Nez allowed came in the bottom of the fifth when Caleb English singled up the middle with two outs.

“We normally hit the ball well, but they’re pitchers did a good job,” Russell said.

The future may be a bright one for the 25-year-old Russell, as his team will only lose three seniors to graduation.


John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

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