Prep baseball: Hanna hit lifts Magnolia to Class A title game
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Magnolia senior Tanner Hanna could sense something with Notre Dame pitcher Jordan Miller in the seventh inning.
Instead of being aggressive at the plate, his patience paid off in spades for the Blue Eagles.
Hanna singled on a full-count pitch with no outs in the top of the seventh inning to lift Magnolia (31-4) to a 4-3 Class A state tournament semifinal victory over Notre Dame (19-9) on Friday at Appalachian Power Park.
The victory sends Coach Dave Cisar's team into the Class A title game at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Friday's second single-A semifinal between Charleston Catholic and Valley-Fayette.
Hanna fouled off a 3-2 pitch before his single scored Chandler Sapp and Kyle Elliott, both of whom walked to open the inning.
"I was waiting for my pitch, and I had good cuts at the first two strikes and just missed," Hanna said. "The last one I knew I got it.
"We knew they were getting tired and we were just waiting for him to throw the right pitch, throw a strike and that's what most of us did."
The game puts Magnolia in its first Class A title game in school history. The Blue Eagles won the 2006 title as a Class AA school and was reclassified among the state's smallest schools beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, under fourth-year Coach Patrick Marozzi, was making its first appearance in the state tournament since two years before he arrived. Notre Dame lost in the Class A final in 2005.
"If you ask our kids, our expectations are to be here," Marozzi said. "With a bunch of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, their expectations are that we're not young. Coach Cisar just told me that we were the better team."
Magnolia was on the ropes, trailing 3-2 into the top of the seventh. However, starting pitcher Spencer Harlow walked two batters and Miller relieved. He left after getting two outs and hit a batter to load the bases when Hanna stroked his game-winning hit.
Josh Baker had two hits and two of Notre Dame's RBI.
Cisar almost made the ultimate mistake of not starting his ace, Kyle Elliott. Instead, Zack Wilhoit took the mound, going 21/3 innings and giving up three earned runs. Elliott relieved in the third and no-hit the Irish with three strikeouts and a walk.
"I probably started the wrong pitcher," Cisar said. "Wilhoit's been pitching real, real well, but, I'm thinking, 'Hey, if Wilhoit can beat this team today ...' "They were by far the better ballclub through the first three innings. The swung the bats, they hit the ball hard, and we didn't do much of anything. I decided, if I'm going to lose, I'm going to go with my best pitcher."