The Logan High School baseball team refused to go down in the Class AAA sectional tournament on Wednesday night at home.
In an elimination game with St. Albans, it was win or go home.
The Wildcats stayed alive by rallying to defeat the Red Dragons 3-2 in the fourth game of the Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 Tournament.
With the victory Logan (23-9) advanced to the finals. The Wildcats were scheduled to play at Nitro (22-8) on Thursday night in the championship game.
The season came to and end for St. Albans which was ousted from the double-elimination tournament. The Red Dragons, which beat Logan 4-3 in nine innings last Saturday in Game 1, closed out the 2014 prep baseball season with a 17-17 record.
Logan survived to play another day.
“We hung on,” Logan coach Roger Gertz said. “They made a mistake here in left field and Z. Minnick scored from first. I think that he’s healed.”
A St. Albans miscue in the outfield proved to be the difference as the Wildcats caught a break in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Chase Preston led off the inning with a double off St. Albans starting pitcher Josh Burks. Catcher Z. Minnick was then intentionally walked with one out and Preston stole third to put runners at the corners.
After Chase Burnette popped out to the mound, third baseman Troy Burgess then lofted a shallow fly ball to left which dropped in for a base hit in front of St. Albans left fielder Adam Bowen. Preston scored easily, and after the ball squirted past Bowen, Logan third base coach Kevin Gertz then waved in Minnick, who scored from first to put Logan ahead 3-2.
Logan relief pitcher Tim Saunders then shut down St. Albans, pitching 3.1 innings of hitless ball with four strikeouts and no walks.
Saunders came on in the fourth in relief of starter Burnette. Burks had just put St. Albans ahead 2-1 with a two-run single to center as he ripped a high fastball from Burnette into the outfield.
With two runners on, Saunders then put out the fire by striking out Bobby Grishaber, one of four Ks on the night by the Red Dragon shortstop.
Saunders allowed a leadoff single by Mitchel Laton in the fifth, then proceeded to retire the next nine batters he faced, getting St. Albans out in order in the sixth and seventh innings to notch the win in relief. He got Laton to fly out to left to end the game in the top of the seventh innning.
“Tim pitched great and he came in there and did what he had to do,” Gertz said. “Tim is not going to overpower you but he’s going to hit his spots. We’re hanging on.”
The Wildcats trailed 2-1 after four innings but the two-run single by Burgess and the outfield error ended up being the difference.
“This game is so funny. It’s so mental,” Gertz said. “You start pressing a little bit and before you know it you are in a hole and you’re digging like crazy to get out of it. This was the same way that we played them last Saturday over at St. Albans. A mistake here or there and that means the game. They made a mistake and the ball dropped in. Their kid overran it and kicked it to the side and we scored Minnick from first.”
Burks pitched well and seemed to keep Logan’s hitters off balance but was tagged with the loss. He gave up three runs and seven hits with two strikeouts and four walks over six innings.
“This kid today wasn’t overpowering but he’s got a real good curveball,” Gertz said.
Burnette went 3.2 innings and yielded two runs and five hits in a no-decision. He walked three and hit one batter.
Burnette was able to get out of jams in the second and third innings.
In the second, St. Albans had back-to-back, two-out singles by Andrew Matthews and Joseph Call. The Red Dragons loaded up the bases after Burnette walked DH Brandon Johnson. He got out of the bases loaded jam, however, as No. 9 hole hitter Leland Brown flew out to center.
The Red Dragons threatened to score in the third, too, with a lead off walk by Bowen and a single by Burks. Burnette then fanned Grishaber, got Laton to fly out to center and then struck out Hunter Chandler to end the inning.
Burnette’s luck, however, ran out in the fourth.
Logan went ahead 1-0 in the second as Kyle Harvey drew a bases loaded walk, scoring courtesy runner Will Akers.
Logan outhit St. Albans 7-6. Preston went 2-for-3 to lead Logan’s bats. Burks was 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Red Dragons.
Trace Butcher added a bloop single for Logan. Burnette also had a single. Josh Rein had a bunt single in the second inning. Saunders added a single and a sacrifice bunt.
The Wildcats were set to face Nitro on Thursday on the road in the sectional championship game. Logan was looking for its 14th sectional title in the last 15 years. The only time LHS has not won a sectional crown since 2000 was in 2012 when Logan was upset at South Charleston in the section title game.
Logan then rebounded to win over Nitro and St. Albans last year in its new Class AAA sectional.
Nitro is coached by Chapmanville High School graduate Steve Pritchard.
The winner of the Logan-Nitro game is scheduled to host Point Pleasant (17-10) next Tuesday in the Class AAA regional semifinals. The winner of that game will then travel to play at either Cabell Midland or Hurricane next Thursday, May 29 in the Region 4 championship game for the right to play in the state tournament.
Point Pleasant won its sectional title two games to one over Winfield. The Big Blacks downed Winfield 11-3 in the finals.
Region 4 Section 2
Saturday: St. Albans 4, Logan 3, 9 innings
Monday: Logan 2, Nitro 0
Tuesday: Nitro 10, St. Albans 0
Wednesday: Logan 3, St. Albans 2, St. Albans eliminated
Thursday: Logan at Nitro, late