Prep baseball: Logan-St. Albans highlights sectional finals
Three sectionals involving Kanawha Valley teams will be completed after Westest, at least one of the state's double-elimination sectionals still needs two games to be decided and Nitro is nowhere to be found.
The 2013 high school baseball playoffs have been unusual, indeed.
There are five teams remaining in Class AAA Region 4, long considered the state's toughest big-school region. Nitro was eliminated without winning a postseason game, and will be left out of the State Tournament for the first time since 2006.
Winfield (Section 1), Hurricane (3) and Cabell Midland (4) have won sectional championships and aren't scheduled to play another postseason game until Monday. St. Albans (21-10) and Logan (19-9) meet at 6:30 p.m. today at Loftis Field to decide the winner of Section 2.
The Red Dragons are 1-3 against the Wildcats, claiming a 5-2 victory at Middleburg Island on Saturday to stay alive in the Section 2, double-elimination tournament.
Roger Gertz is in his 33rd season as head coach at Logan with state championships in 2005 and 2008 (Class AA) and 1994, 2000, 2001 (AAA), results achieved not by concerning himself with keeping pitching plans a secret.
"We're going to go with (Johnny) Morrison again," Gertz said. "A lot of times coaches don't want to show their pitching. I've never been one of those. We go through a schedule during the year with our rotation and we throw our best pitchers against some of the better teams we play."
In the second game of the Region 4, Section 2 Tournament, Morrison tossed a gem at the Red Dragons, going six four-hit, scoreless innings with six strikeouts and two walks.
"We like we're stronger defensively with him on the mound," said Gertz, who has sophomore standout Zack Minnick catching.
"We haven't hit the ball well all year long. That's my worry."
That doesn't seem to be a problem for Minnick. In four games against St. Albans, Logan's No. 3 batter is 5-for-8 with a double, home run and three RBI.
St. Albans' pitching options are limited if Coach Rick Whitman chooses to use a player Logan hasn't seen. Clark Bryant, Joey Dodrill, Joe Call, Austin Harless and Dustin Turley have thrown at least one inning against Logan this season.
However, Turley was limited to one, picking up the save in their last meeting. Dodrill has an injured hamstring, which limits his play, but he is able to pitch. The senior hasn't played the field or batted since April 27 against Independence and threw only 1 2/3 innings of relief against Logan last Thursday.
Turley began St. Albans' road to the sectional final with a complete-game effort against Nitro. He struck out four with only one walk and one earned run surrendered.
However, Whitman's team has relied on throwing strikes and making routine defensive plays this season in winning at least 20 games for the 11th time in Whitman's 16 years in the dugout.
St. Albans pitchers have issued only three walks per game, while averaging 6.4 strikeouts.
Since dropping a 5-1 decision to Nitro on April 29, St. Albans is 4-1 and has given up a combined four runs in four of those games.
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GEORGE WASHINGTON will face South Charleston at 6 p.m. at Bryan-McIlwain Field for the Class AAA, Region 3, Section 3 championship.
The fifth meeting of the season will also be the rubber match, with GW (21-11) earning a 13-12 win on April 25 and a 6-5 victory in the second game of the best-of-three sectional series Saturday. The Black Eagles (15-13) won their Mountain State Athletic Conference place game 10-7 on April 29 and the first sectional game last Thursday, 6-4.
The winner hosts Riverside in the Region 3 semifinal Monday, with the regional championship game set for Wednesday.
The Patriots, who have a 3.54 team earned run average, are led on the mound by junior Tanner Sorrells.
Sorrells lasted just one inning in GW's series-tying sectional matchup with South Charleston, has a 7-0 record with 34 strikeouts, 19 walks and a 2.52 ERA in 41 2/3 innings.
Sophomore Jeff Wong has a 4.08 ERA in 46 1/3 innings and freshman Austin Henrich has a 4.40 ERA in 43 innings.
South Charleston is led on the mound by Jonathan Pauley, who leads the team in innings pitched (55) and earned run average (4.58) and is tied for the team lead in strikeouts (50).
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HERBERT HOOVER will continue its quest for a spot in the State Tournament with a visit to Clay County to face the Panthers in the Class AA Region 4, Section 1 Tournament.
A victory by Hoover (26-3) eliminates the Panthers (18-12). A Clay victory will force an elimination game. The winner of Section 1 will play again on Tuesday when it hosts Sissonville.
Hoover won its first 16 games of the season, but has slowed down from the torrid pace it kept the first month of the season, and is 5-2 in its last seven games.
The Huskies have a 2.21 team earned run average, led by junior Cody Bowen, who has a 5-1 record and 1.75 ERA. Hoover also has five pitchers with at least four victories apiece. Junior Tristan Fields also is 5-1 and has a 2.12 ERA and team-high 48 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.