Eagles reach new heights

Riding the arm of a sophomore, the West Union Eagles have landed in the MHSAA Class 1A state baseball championship series for the first time in the school’s history.
Sophomore right-hander Will Basil and the Eagles will be facing a St. Aloysius team that has a rich baseball tradition. The Flashes last made it to the state championship series in 2002.
Game 1 is set to get under way at 1 p.m. today at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Game 2 will be 7 p.m. Friday, and the if-necessary Game 3 will be played on Monday with a start time to be announced.
Junior left-handed pitcher Devin Brock (4-4) will start Game 1 for the Eagles, while Basil (9-4), who has pitched brilliantly in the postseason, will start Game 2.
As for Game 3, West Union manager Ashley Russell said, “We’ll piece it together however it falls.”
Russell said the reason why Basil, who is 5-0 in the playoffs, won’t pitch Game 1 is because the sophomore threw a lot of pitches in Monday’s thrilling 4-3 win over Ingomar in eight innings.
Basil struck out 15 and allowed five hits in going the distance on Monday night.
“Will’s been great all year,” his catcher, Caleb English, said after Monday’s game. “He’s really been working his tail off.
“He threw everything he had today. He hit the spots. He threw consistent. It was just great, a great ballgame.”
What makes Basil great, said Russell, is that he doesn’t try to overpower hitters.
“He just tries to mix it up,” Russell said. “He can’t throw it hard enough right now to throw it by anybody, but he does a great job of keeping people off-balance and throwing all of his pitches for strikes in any count.”
On the offensive side, Hunter McQuary has been leading the Eagles at the plate with a .455 batting average, seven homers and 51 RBIs.
The first baseman had three of the Eagles’ five hits on Monday against Ingomar starter Josh Hodges.
McQuary came up with a clutch two-out, two-run double to right center that gave West Union a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
But the slugger and the rest of the Eagles hitters will face a difficult task this series when they face St. Aloysius pitching, led by Stephen Evans, who is 11-2 on the year.
“The only thing I know about them (St. Aloysius) right now is that they’re traditionally strong,” Russell said. “They’ve got really good pitching, but other than that I don’t really know that much about them right now.”

At Trustmark Park, Pearl
Game times: Game 1, today at 1 p.m.; Game 2, Friday 7 p.m.; Game 3 (if necessary), Monday TBA.
West Union probables: Game 1, Devin Brock, LHP, 4-4; Game 2, Will Basil, RHP, 9-4; Game 3, TBA.
West Union leaders: RHP Will Basil, 9-4, 3.75 ERA, 85 strikeouts; 1B Hunter McQuary, .455 batting average, 7 HR, 51 RBIs.
St. Aloysius leaders: RHP Stephen Evans, 11-2, 1.18 ERA, 89 strikeouts; UTL/P Pierson Waring, .468 batting average, 4 HR, 48 RBI.
Last championship series appearance: West Union, First ever appearance; St. Aloysius, 2002.

John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

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