The Logan High School baseball team feels like it has something to prove.
Last year, the Wildcats saw their string of 13 straight sectional championships come to a close at South Charleston.
This year, Logan was placed into a tougher new Class AAA sectional with St. Albans and Nitro — a pair of traditional state powerhouses.
The Cats want to regain the sectional title this week.
Logan (17-8), ranked No. 10 in the state, is scheduled to open Class AAA sectional play on Wednesday night at unranked St. Albans (19-9).
Nitro (19-10), last year’s Class AAA state runner-up, was scheduled to open the sectional at home on Monday night against St. Albans but that game was rained out and moved to Tuesday night.
Game 3 is now set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. as Logan hosts Nitro in the double elimination tourney.
The two surviving teams would then meet on Friday night. If another game is needed it would be played on Saturday.
No games are allowed to be played next Monday through Wednesday due to the WESTEST. If the sectional tourney is not completed by then it would pick up on Thursday, May 16.
Logan has had the upper hand on both the Red Dragons and Nitro Wildcats this season as LHS has swept over both teams. Nitro and St. Albans split in their two-game regular season series.
Logan coach Roger Gertz said he expects a very competitive sectional tourney.
The Cats had played a three-team Class AAA sectional with George Washington and South Charleston from 2009-12 since moving back up to Triple-A. Logan and St. Albans last played each other in a baseball sectional back in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
“It should be a good one because all three teams are evenly matched,” Gertz said. “All three teams have good pitching. This is the first year that we’ve been in this sectional. St. Albans and Nitro are traditionally strong baseball programs. Nitro has probably been the top program in the state over the last 10 years. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Going 4-0 this season over its sectional foes is meaningless heading into post-season play, Gertz said.
“I’m not sure if we have faced their best pitching or not,” Gertz said. “All four games were relatively close. But really, beating them four times doesn’t mean anything. You can just throw that out the window. We just have to start playing some better baseball than what we have been. We haven’t hit the ball this year like I thought that could have. But our pitching has been pretty solid.”
Logan has had a very good three-man rotation this season on the mound with sophomore right-hander Z. Minnick, junior righty Troy Burgess and senior right-hander Johnny Morrison. Other arms have also stepped up to give Logan a deep pitching staff.
Good pitching always seems to trump good hitting when it comes to sectional tourney play.
Logan knows this well.
“Our pitching has been what has carried us,” Gertz said. “Chase Preston has also pitched several games for us and has done a good job. We’ve also pitched Chase Burnette a time or two here late in the season and he’s also done a good job. We feel like we’ve got four or five pretty solid kids that we can throw in there.”
Minnick has led Logan’s bats this season. He’s played a variety of positions in addition to his mound time as he’s also played at shortstop, third and a few games at catcher. Minnick has hit for both power and for average, Logan’s version of Miguel Cabrera if you will.
“He’s led us all season and has hit the ball well,” Gertz said of Minnick. “Troy Burgess has also hit well. Josh Rein was hitting well but had an injury. He’s back now and hopefully he can help us. He’s a good defensive player, too. When he gets on base he runs the bases very well.”
Gertz said he hopes senior catcher Benji Adkins can have a breakout sectional tourney.
“Benji Adkins hasn’t had the year that we or he expected but he’s always dangerous,” Gertz said. “Hopefully, he can turn it around here at the end of the year. That’s what he did last year and we’re hoping for the same thing.”
Trent Dalton, a senior middle infielder, has also been key to Logan’s success. He’s expected to sign with Salem International University on Wednesday morning.
“Trent hasn’t had a great offensive year but he’s a great defensive player,” Gertz said. “Hopefully he can also turn it around in the next few weeks. We’re optimistic. Hopefully, we can get everyone hitting at the same time.”
Another key Logan player is senior starting first baseman Alex Lakatos, a left-handed hitter.
Gertz said he hopes the weather will clear enough to be able to get in all of the sectional games this week.
The Logan baseball team has been no stranger to bad weather when it comes to post-season time.
Back in 2005 it was the worst weather of all when it took eight days to play a single game — the Class AA sectional championship contest between Logan and Scott.
It all started on May 13, 2005 in the infamous “tarp game.”
That night, the game started but rain forced Logan baseball officials to put the tarp on the infield. The tarp was left over from the previous summer when Logan was the site of the West Virginia American Legion State Baseball Tournament.
As the tarp was being placed hurricane-forced winds of an estimated 75 miles per hour blew the tarp across the Logan diamond and up against the visiting dugout, the baseball building and the power poles.
The game was suspended and could not continue the next day due to the tarp which was still lodged into place.
Then came the WESTEST May 16-18, so no games could be played.
Logan and Scott tried to finish the game on May 19 but the game was rained out again.
So on Saturday, May 20, 2005 — the last day a sectional tourney could be played due to WVSSAC rules — Logan and Scott finally finished its sectional title game as the Wildcats won 6-2 on a bright, sunny day, en route to a 26-4 record and the Class AA state championship.
Logan has since gotten rid of its infield tarp but hopes the weather will not be a factor this year.
Again in 2008, rain delayed the sectional tourney, spreading it out over two weeks. Logan lost to Chapmanville 11-0 in the ‘08 sectional opener, but then came back to beat the Tigers 10 days later in the finals, 8-5, on the last available day. The Cats went on to finish 27-9 and beat Point Pleasant 13-3 in the Class AA state championship game.
“If we don’t get in the tourney by this Saturday we won’t be able to play again until next Thursday,” Gertz said. “Then you would have Thursday, Friday and Saturday but it would have to be complete by next Saturday. If you don’t it would revert back to a single-elimination tournament. We lost the first game of the sectionals to Chapmanville one year (2008) and we had to play on the following Saturday on the last day on a wet field.”
If the tourney is complete the winner usually plays tune-up regular season games before the regionals are played.
“You hope to get the sectional in so you can play more regular season games on that next Thursday, Friday or Saturday,” Gertz said. “If you haven’t played your 32 games you can do that. Most teams don’t play a full 32-game schedule because of the rain.”
* The Man High School baseball team was scheduled to open its best-of-three Class A sectional tournament series with Tug Valley on Tuesday night at Man.
The game was called off due to rain and rescheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.
Man enters with a 4-21 record while Tug Valley is 8-11.
Game 2 is now set for Friday, also 6 p.m., at Man. Game 3 would be played on Saturday at Man, if necessary.
The Hillbillies, which won 8-4 last Friday in its regular season finale, did not play the Panthers this season.