The Logan High School baseball team is on a roll.
With a seven-game winning streak heading into this week and the Class AAA sectional tournament, the Wildcats are peaking at the right time.
Logan (19-8) is looking to win its second straight sectional tourney as the Wildcats are set to do battle with Nitro and St. Albans.
It’s the second straight year Logan has played in the current three-team section. Logan had won 12 straight sectional championships from 2000-11 before getting ousted at South Charleston in the 2012 sectional final.
Last year, Logan was shipped out to a new sectional and won the title again.
The Cats hope to stay on top this year.
The Class AAA sectional begins on Thursday as Logan plays at St. Albans. Then on Friday, Nitro comes to Logan. Both games have 6:30 p.m. starting times. On Saturday, St. Albans travels to Nitro in the double-elimination sectional.
The two surviving teams are then set to meet next Monday in the finals.
Logan is set to finish out regular season play with Monday’s home against Hurricane and a road game on Tuesday night against the same Hurricane team.
The St. Albans Red Dragons have had an up-and-down season this spring and currently stand at 10-11. Logan beat St. Albans 3-1 and 11-5 this season. The Cats and Nitro did not play.
Nitro, coached by Chapmanville High School graduate Steve Pritchard, are 21-6. Logan knocked off both Nitro and St. Albans in last year’s sectional tournament.
Logan coach Roger Gertz said his team seems to be peaking at the right time.
“We’ve been playing well and have been hitting the ball well,” Gertz said. “Certain guys in our lineup have really been hitting well, such as Chase Preston. He’s had a phenomenal second half of the year. Of course, Z. Minnick is hitting well. Josh Rein led off for us last year but this year we’ve played around with our lineup and we’ve moved him down to eighth and he’s started to hit well. Now, we’ve moved him to number four. Troy Burgess is also hitting very well and so is Trace Butcher. We’ve added Brenton Vance in as our DH and he’s had some big hits for us. Hopefully, we can continue to hit the ball well.”
Minnick, Logan’s all-state junior catcher, leads the team with a hefty .500 batting average heading into the sectionals. He has seven home runs and 34 RBI, also team highs. Minnick also has four doubles, a triple and three stolen bases.
Chase Preston, Logan’s starting junior second baseman and leadoff man, is batting .455 with two homers, 22 RBI, three doubles a triple and 14 steals.
Senior left fielder Josh Rein has a .400 batting average with two home runs, 16 RBI, a team-high nine doubles, two triples and a team-best 16 stolen bases.
Senior third baseman Troy Burgess has a .329 average with two homers, 22 RBI, four doubles, a triple and five steals.
Trace Butcher, Logan’s senior second baseman, has a .347 batting clip with one homer, 14 RBI, five doubles, a team-high three triples and four steals.
Brenton Vance, Logan’s designated hitter, has a .346 average going into the sectionals with two doubles and seven RBI.
Senior center fielder Kyle Harvey (.263 13 RBI), first baseman Chase Burnette (.301, 22 RBI) and outfielder Zach Hanlon (.307, 23 RBI) have also contributed to the offense.
Freshman Will Akers has come off the bench to steal seven bases. Vance also has six steals.
As a team, Logan is hitting .341 with 14 home runs. The Wildcats have been aggressive on the basepaths and are 70-of-82 in steals for 85.4 percent.
On the mound, Logan has also been solid. The Wildcat staff has a team ERA of 2.18 with 169 strikeouts and only 90 issued walks in 170 total innings.
Minnick is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA as he has allowed just four earned runs in 25 innings with 34 strikeouts and only seven walks. A late season hamstring injury, however, might have ended his season on the mound, Gertz said.
Burgess heads into post-season play with a 4-3 record and 0.75 ERA. He has given up only three earned runs with 20 strikeouts and 15 walks in 28 innings.
Burnette is 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA. He has a 36-inning worksheet and has allowed 13 earned runs while fanning 22 and walking 18.
Preston has a 3-0 mark as a pitcher with a 1.17 ERA. Preston has pitched 12 innings and has yielded only two earned runs with 21 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Tim Saunders, a senior transfer from Florida, is 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA and a save. He has 35 strikeouts and 15 walks in 43 innings. The 43 innings pitched is the most on the team. Saunders has also filled in at catcher for Minnick and has a .250 batting average with four RBI.
Left-hander Jared Shawver (2-2, 3.97 ERA), Will Akers and Cameron Sammons have also pitched for Logan.
“Z has been hurt and we might not pitch him the rest of the year,” Gertz said. “He’s probably one of our best pitchers if not the best pitcher but we’re solid with him behind the plate. Chase Preston has been solid and his velocity is unreal. We play Cameron Sammons there at short when he pitches and Cameron has done a great job too. Defensively, he’s a really good player. Troy has pitched real well. Chase Burnette has pitched good most of the year. Our pitching has been solid. Tim Saunders has also done a great job for us on the mound. We’ve got five or six pitchers that we can count on, particularly in the sectionals.”
Nitro comes into the sectional tourney having won six out of its last seven games.
“We open at St. Albans,” Gertz said. “Then we’re home against Nitro. We didn’t play Nitro this year. St. Albans is good. You sure can’t overlook them. If you do you’ll be in the same place that Nitro was in last year when they lost to St. Albans and then lost to us. We could be in that same scenario, so we have to be ready to play. Nitro is tough.”
The sectional tourney winner advances to the upcoming regional semifinals against either Winfield or Point Pleasant on Wednesday, May 21.
2014 Logan High School
Baseball Schedule (19-8):
March 22: at Lawrence County, Ky., L 3-4
March 27: Huntington, L 1-3
March 31: Cabell Midland, W 4-0
April 1: at Winfield, W 10-0
April 5: at Point Pleasant, W 20-9
April 7: at Huntington, W 13-3
April 10: St. Albans, W 3-1
April 11: Belfry, Ky., W 11-1
April 14: vs. Austintown Fitch (Ohio) at Mingo Bay Classic, Myrtle Beach, S.C., W 8-7
April 15: vs. Socastee (S.C.) at Mingo Bay Classic, Myrtle Beach, S.C., L 1-11
April 16: vs. Greenbrier Christian Academy (Va.) at Mingo Bay Classic, Myrtle Beach, S.C., L 2-4
April 17: vs. Caldwell Academy (N.C.) at Mingo Bay Classic, Myrtle Beach, S.C., W 5-2
April 18: vs. Musselman at Mingo Bay Classic, Myrtle Beach, S.C., L 1-2
April 21: Scott, W 14-4
April 22: Man, W 10-0
April 23: at Cabell Midland, L 2-6
April 25: vs. George Washington (at Ed Carter Invitational at Winfield), W 9-4
April 25: at Winfield (at GW at Ed Carter Invitational at Winfield), L 1-11
April 26: at St. Albans (at Ed Carter Invitational, St. Albans), W 11-5
April 30: Ripley, L 4-5 (9)
May 1: at Scott, W 15-0
May 2: Winfield, W 3-2
May 5: Lawrence County, Ky., W 13-3
May 6: at Ripley, W 9-2
May 7: at Lincoln County, W 14-4
May 8: at Man, W 12-0
May 9: George Washington, W 4-3 (10)
May 12: Hurricane, 6:30 p.m.
May 13: at Hurricane, 6 p.m.
May 15: at St. Albans (Class AAA sectionals), 6:30 p.m.
May 16: Nitro (Class AAA sectionals), 6:30 p.m.