'Something to build off of': Donoho's breakthrough to finals ends in Bayshore wave

·4 min read

May 20—MONTGOMERY — Donoho's dreams of its first state baseball championship ran into John Malone and Bayshore Christian's bats Wednesday.

Malone pitched a no-hitter in Game 2 of their Class 1A title series then allowed one hit through the first two innings of Game 3, and the Eagles swept the Falcons 10-0 and 18-0 in two run-rule games in Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium.

Malone finished as the series most valuable player, and Bayshore Christian became a state champion in its first year of Alabama High School Athletic Association eligibility.

Donoho (24-11) made its first-ever appearance in the final series and deepest playoff run since making the quarterfinals for the first time ever in 2019. The Falcons won Tuesday's Game 1 at Paterson Field 6-3.

Donoho made the two deepest postseason runs in its history in back-to-back completed seasons. The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the Falcons' 2020 season five games in.

"I think I left it in a good way," said shortstop/pitcher Blake Willingham, Donoho's lone senior. "I feel like I gave these guys something to build off of."

Donoho's state-runner-up finish was the school's fourth of this school year. The Falcons also brought home Alabama High School Athletic Association red-map runner-up trophies in volleyball, girls tennis and girls soccer.

"We are blessed with a lot of kids that are gifted athletically, and they work their tails off to be that way," said Donoho coach Steve Gendron, also the school's athletics director. "It's been an exhausting spring, but I would do it again every single year to not have COVID spring, from last year.

"I'm proud of our track, our tennis, our soccer and super pumped about these guys, because I'm directly around them and directly impact them a little bit. Getting to a state championship at any level, in any sport, is something to be really proud of."

Malone took the mound Wednesday and struck out 10 batters in seven innings of work. His no-hitter in Game 1 matched his no-hitter against Brantley in the semifinals and came after a month-and-a-half of struggles with arm and back problems and physical therapy.

"I've had so many things," he said. "All of the dedication to staying healthy, that was real big in my past performances."

Bayshore (27-9) also pounded out 30 hits to Donoho's two in the day's two games.

The Eagles took a 3-0 lead off of Donoho starter Judson Billings in the top of the second of Game 3, thanks to Jace Jones' RBI single, Mikael Bryant's run-scoring grounder and Cole Dean's RBI single.

The Eagles sent 12 batters to the plate and added eight runs against reliever William Folsom in the fourth then added seven against Nic Thompson and Will Farrell in the fifth.

"They just came in, and they were unconscious at the plate," Billings said. "Every time they swung, everyone was hitting the ball. Even when they put in those younger kids, everyone was hitting the ball, too.

"They were the better team today."

Game 1

Bayshore Christian 10, Donoho 0: Malone struck out eight batters. Donoho's lone base runner came when Malone hit Willingham, Donoho's leadoff hitter, in the top of the first inning.

Bayshore staged a four-run rally in the first inning, featuring Dean's RBI triple and Luke Werneth's two-run double.

An error plus Malone's infield single helped Bayshore score another run in the second inning, and the Eagles got four more on Jack Wheeler's RBI single, Jones' RBI double, Dean's RBI double and another error in the third for a 9-0 lead.

Bryant's inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the fifth ended it.

Bayshore coach Jeff Hauge said the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday for his team was rest. The Eagles finished their semifinal series against Brantley on Saturday, took finals Monday and Tuesday then bused to Montgomery ahead of Tuesday's 7 p.m. Game 1.

"It's as if they took the ACT on Monday and Tuesday," Hauge said. "Their minds were mentally and physically shot. They were tired yesterday.

"We went to bed early last night and let them sleep in this morning and, in BP today, everything was real light. ... We had a new look in our eye. We were fresh."

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.