It might have still been March and it’s very, very early in the high school baseball season but you still can’t discredit the Logan Wildcats’ win over Cabell Midland on Monday night.
The Wildcats’ pitching staff put up seven goose eggs as Logan won its first game of the season with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Knights on a cool night at Logan High School’s Roger Gertz Field.
It was the scheduled home opener for the Wildcats, which improved to 1-2 on the season. Logan had opened up with a 4-3 road loss to Lawrence County (Ky.) on March 22 in Louisa, Ky., then lost 3-1 to Huntington last Thursday at home in a game which was added to the schedule just a day before.
Monday night’s win was an early season triumph for the Wildcats.
Cabell Midland was last year’s Class AAA state runner-ups, and with many starters back from the team, the Knights are expected to contend again this spring.
Logan’s pitching, led by starter Chase Burnette, put the clamps down early on Cabell Midland. Burnette, a sophomore right-hander, was impressive in the win as he went five innings and allowed no runs and just two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Logan coach Roger Gertz then did his best Captain Hook impersonation against the Knights in order for the Cats to come out on top.
With it being so early in the season there’s no need to stretch his pitcher’s limits anyway.
And on a coolish night, there’s no need for any of the hurlers to get a stiff arm.
He also didn’t want to let Burnette go too far to waste an overall gem of a performance.
Gertz went to his bullpen with Troy Burgess in the sixth and Florida transfer Tim Saunders in the seventh. Saunders got the final out and the save with a fly out to right.
The two shut the door on the Class AAA region foe Knights, which fell to 3-2 on the season.
Logan also had its moments at the plate even though the Cats only managed six hits for the game.
Chase Preston and Z. Minnick supplied the highlights.
Preston roped a first-inning double off the left field wall.
Then in the bottom of the third, Minnick, a first-team all-state pick from a year ago, launched a towering fly ball deep to left which dropped for a triple.
Number nine hole hitter and centerfielder Kyle Harvey also had a hard-smashing single.
It was a good win for the Wildcats.
There’s no doubt about that.
Some might even go as far to say that it was a bit of a pleasant surprise given Cabell Midland’s recent perceived dominance over Logan on the baseball diamond. The Knights came into the game ranked No. 1 in the state in the Charleston Daily Mail Poll. Logan was rated 11th.
“They were the runner-up last year and they have a lot of kids back,” Gertz said of the Knights. “Somebody told me they had nine returning seniors. I think they are a lot like us in that we are struggling to hit the ball. We are definitely doing that. We’re getting one or two guys hitting the ball hard but we are not hitting it hard consistently like I think we will.”
Logan’s pitching, however, has been in top form.
“Our pitchers were outstanding,” Gertz said. “Chase did a great job. It’s early in the season and we haven’t been throwing like we should on the side. That’s my fault. The longer we go we feel like we have six or seven kids that we can stick in there that will give us chances to win the ballgame. Troy has had a bad back and that was probably the first time that he’s thrown off the mound in a month. He’s hurting real bad. There is also a strain in his ribs. He just hasn’t pitched a whole lot. Tim came in there and pitched real well and he’s going to be a big asset for us on the mound as we go through this year. He came in in a tough situation.”
Minnick led Logan’s bats as he was 2-for-3 with a double and a triple. His double to center in the first inning jumpstarted the Cats, which plated two runs to make it 2-0. Burgess had an RBI single during the frame.
Preston’s RBI double in the second which bounced to the left field wall, made it 3-0.
Logan then scored it’s last run in the third with Minnick’s triple and a sac fly to left by Burgess, who finished the game with two RBI. Harvey added a single for Logan.
“Kyle had a hard single. One of the hardest hits we had all night was the shot to left field by Troy Burgess which scored a run when they caught it and Z tagged and went home,” Gertz said.
Cabell Midland threatened in the fifth but with two runners on, Eric Wooten grounded into a force out at third to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Knights had runners at first and second with two outs but Taylor Haynes fouled out to Logan second baseman Trace Butcher who made a nice long running stab across the white line.
In the seventh, Bryton Jobe singled and Wooten was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on.
Gertz then brought in Saunders, who ended the game with Taylor Kuhn’s fly out to right.
With the unusually cold winter and heavy snow the last three months, Gertz said it’s nice to be back outside on the diamond.
Winter is dead and Wildcat baseball fans were able to flock to Roger Gertz Field without fear of being treated at the Logan Regional Medical Center’s frostbite ward.
Logan’s baseball field is in surprisingly good shape given the severity of the winter. Patches of yellow grass are still visable across the field but in a couple of weeks it should be all green. This week’s warm weather and sunshine will most certainly help with that.
“It’s nice to be back out here,” Gertz said. “This field is really draining well. The County Commission helped us put this in here a few years ago. We got the Bermuda grass put in, and, although it is not coming up yet the new drainage system is unbelievable. It pools up some in some of the lower areas but the water gets in and gets out. The playability is very good.”
LHS was slated to play at Winfield Tuesday. Logan is set to host Lincoln County on Thursday at 7 p.m. and go to Point Pleasant on Saturday. Logan is then at Huntington on April 7 and at Belfry (Ky.) on April 8.
West Virginia High School
Charleston Daily Mail sportswriters’ prep baseball poll for April 1:
Class AAA (first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Cabell Midland (6) 68
2. Hurricane 53
3. (t) Woodrow Wilson 38
3. (t) George Washington 38
5. Hedgesville (1) 36
6. Wheeling Park 25
7. Hampshire 21
8. Nitro 20
9. Huntington 19
10. Parkersburg South 18
Also receiving votes: Logan, Jefferson, Musselman, Spring Valley, John Marshall, Winfield, Point Pleasant, St. Albans, Oak Hill.
1. Herbert Hoover (4) 67
2. Independence (3) 56
3. Fairmont Senior 53
4. Bridgeport (1) 41
5. Wyoming East 22
6. Liberty (R) 20
7. Chapmanville 18
8. Petersburg 17
9. Sissonville 11
10. Pikeview 9
Also receiving votes: Wayne, Frankfort, Grafton, Liberty (H), East Fairmont, Ritchie County, Braxton County.
1. Notre Dame (2) 55
2. Valley (F) (1) 51
3. Magnolia (3) 50
4. Charleston Catholic (1) 39
5. Parkersburg Catholic 29
6. Greenbrier West 24
7. Wheeling Central 23
8 (t) Wahama 17
8. (t) St. Marys 17
8. (t) Madonna 17
Also receiving votes: Fayetteville, Bishop Donahue, Pendleton County, Moorefield, Man, Buffalo, St. Joseph, East Hardy, Gilmer County, Clay-Battelle, Paden City, South Harrison.