Burnette, Wildcats blank Billies 10-0

By Paul Adkins padkins@civitasmedia.com

April 24, 2014

It was a fine performance on Tuesday night at Logan High School’s Roger E. Gertz Field as the Class AAA No. 9 Logan baseball team blanked Class A No. 7 Man 10-0 behind the one-hit pitching of the Wildcats’ Chase Burnette.

But that was just part of the story.

A more ominous thing took place as Logan junior all-state catcher Z. Minnick left the game in the third inning with a possible leg injury.

After reaching base safely on a Man error, Minnick turned past first base and appeared to pull a muscle or a hamstring on his way to second. He was eventually thrown out sliding at second and the inning was over.

The extent of Minnick’s injury was unclear on Tuesday night after the game but it’s almost certain Logan coach Roger Gertz will sit him down a few games to heal and rest.

With the Class AAA sectional tournament three weeks away, Logan will need Minnick. He’s not only one of the top players in the state with the bat, he’s also a top pitcher for the Wildcats.

Last season as a sophomore, Minnick had a hefty .535 batting average with six home runs and 39 RBI. Minnick also led the team last year in doubles with 10, triples with three and total hits with 43. He was also had a team-high 11 stolen bases in 13 attempts. Minnick was also Logan’s top pitcher last year as the right-hander was 7-2 with a 1.38 ERA with 53 strikeouts and just 11 issued walks in a 51-inning worksheet.

He’s having another big season this spring.

“We think he’s got a pulled hamstring,” Gertz said of Minnick after the game. “He said when he went across the bag and took off he felt a pull. I hope it’s not anything more. He does a lot for us, not only behind the plate but also pitching. That weakens our pitching a lot if he’s out.”

When Minnick left the game, Florida transfer and backup catcher Tim Saunders took over behind the plate.

As long as Minnick is out, when Saunders takes off his gear and pitches that would mean Logan would have to go to third-string catcher Ryan Holstein.

“When Tim pitches that would mean Ryan Holstein would have to fill in at catcher,” Gertz said. “He does a good job blocking the ball. He’s going to be a good catcher. He may have to step up now.”

Logan imporoved to 10-5 on the season with the win.

It was the second straight mercy-rule victory for the Wildcats since returning from Myrtle Beach. Logan overwhelmed Scott 14-4 in five innings on Monday night at “The Rog.”

“The last two nights we’ve hit the ball extremely hard,” Gertz said. “We hit a couple balls right on the nose but were caught. Troy Burgess hit one in the first inning but right at the center fielder. Zach Hanlon hit a shot at short which they got a double play on. We had a lot of good base hits. We’re getting two or three hits out of a lot of people.”

Second baseman Trace Butcher was 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBI for the Cats. Left fielder Josh Rein was 3-for-3 with a double and RBI. Right fielder Zach Hanlon was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs knocked in.

“Trace Butcher has just been wearing the baseball out,” Gertz said. “Defensively, coming into this that’s where I thought that we might be a little weak but he’s going a great job at second base. He made a nice catch in short right field tonight. He’s a great player. He’s quickened his throw on double plays. He’s doing a great job.”

Logan also got a great performance from starting and pitcher Chase Burnette who tossed a five-inning one-hitter over the Hillbillies. He struck out seven and walked three. Man’s only base hit was a one-out, infield single by Braden Griffin in the fourth inning.

“That could have been a no-hitter if Chase (Preston) had gotten rid of the ball just a little bit quicker,” Gertz said. “He did pitch extremely well. He pitched a heck of a game earlier in the season against Cabell Midland. He was sharp just like that game here tonight. At the beach, he wasn’t quite as sharp. We’re pleased with where our pitching is. But if Z is going to be out for awhile that’s big loss. Other guys will have to step up.”

The Wildcats wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard on Man starting pitcher, Jake Adkins, a lefty.

Leadoff man Chase Preston singled, stole second and raced home on Butcher’s RBI single to center to make it 1-0.

The Cats would later score three more runs in the frame to take a 4-0 lead. Two of those came home on Rein’s two-run double, scoring Butcher and courtesy runner Brenton Vance.

Logan tallied the fourth run with Hanlon’s RBI single to left.

In the second, the Wildcats chased Adkins off the mound with another four-spot to make it 8-0.

Logan ended up sending nine batters to the plate. The big blow was Rein’s two-run single to center. Minnick and Hanlon also had RBI singles during the frame.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, ahead 8-0, Logan ended the game early.

Saunders, who started the game as the designated hitter and finished by filling in for the injured Minnick behind the plate, led off with a walk. His courtesy runner, Will Akers, then stole second and scored on Butcher’s RBI single.

Logan’s Jared Shawver, who came into the game late at first base to spell Alex Toler when Logan had to shuffle its lineup, then delivered a walk-off sac fly to center off Man relief pitcher Austin Cook to end the game.

Third baseman Troy Burgess added a hit for Logan.

The Wildcats improved to 10-5 on the season with the win. Man fell to 10-5.

Man coach Larry Vance seemed to be at a loss for words after the game.

“It was 10-0, what else can I say?” Vance said.

Logan was scheduled to return to action with Wednesday night’s game at Cabell Midland.

Then on Friday, Logan is set to play George Washington at 1 p.m. and Winfield at 4 p.m. in the first leg of the Ed Carter Invitational at George Washington High School on the school’s South Hills Campus.

LHS is then set to return to play in the tourney on Saturday at St. Albans on the final day of action.

Next week, Logan returns home to host Huntington on Monday at 7 p.m. and Ripley on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The Billies were slated to play at Belfry (Ky.) on Wednesday. On Friday, Man hosts River View at 7 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Hillbillies go to Buffalo for a 1 p.m. game.

Next Monday, Man hosts Belfry and then on Tuesday, the Billies host Class A sectional rival Tug Valley in a doubleheader. The first game will be the completion of the suspended game on April 3 at Tug Valley when Man was leading 7-0 in the third inning when the game at Naugatuck was halted due to lightning and rain.