Wildcats have good blend of young and veteran talent – The Logan Banner

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LOGAN – With a blend of returning and new freshman talent the Logan High School baseball team hopes to put another good squad out on the diamond this spring.

The Wildcats were 18-16 and Class AA Region 4 Section 2 champions last season, beating arch rival Chapmanville 7-5 in the finals. Logan lost in the best-of-three regional championship series to Wayne, however, 8-5 and 8-2 as the Pioneers beat out the Wildcats for the second straight year.

A lot of senior talent was lost from last year’s team, including Second Team All-State picks Matt Brown (pitcher/infield) and T.J. Mullins (infielder) as well as Special Honorable Mention selection Devin Hensley (infielder).

Logan had a nice run in the 2000s, winning back-to-back Class AAA state championships in 2000 and 2001 and also taking Double-A state crowns in 2005 and 2008 and being the 3A state runner-ups in 2002.

The Wildcats, however, haven’t made it to the state tournament in 10 years.

Logan hopes to make a post-season run this year as the Cats have eight seniors and eight juniors on the roster with a host of sophomores and freshmen.

“We have some experience back but we lost six seniors from last year’s team. That’s going to be very tough to replace,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “Brown, Mullins and Hensley were our top three hitters. We also lost Isaiah Beckett and Bailey Ratliff and they started. We have a lot of positions open and lot of positions to fill.”

The good news for Logan is that it returns a deep pitching staff. Fifteen players are listed on the Wildcats’ roster as pitchers.

“The best part of our team this year, like most years, is our pitching,” Gertz said. “We have good pitching depth. We have four pitchers who have seen varsity action and one coming back off an injury. We’ve also got several freshman that we think are going to step up and throw the ball well for us. If we can field and hit it I think that we’ll be OK. If not, it could be a long year. But a lot of teams are in the same boat as us. Not many teams are returning a lot of people except for Scott.”

Logan returns senior pitcher Peyton Branham, an Honorable Mention All-State and Second-Team All-Cardinal Conference player.

Junior right-hander Braydon McClung, a Second-Team All-Conference pick, also returns on the mound. Junior rightys Dawson Beckett and Connor McGrew also return. They were Honorable Mention All-Conference a year ago.

“Our top three or four were our top three or four last year,” Gertz said. “Peyton Branham is our lone senior returning pitcher. Dawson Beckett has been a very good pitcher for us for two years. McClung didn’t pitch a lot as a freshman but did last year and was super. We will be very good every time one of those guys steps onto the hill. Connor McGrew also throws the ball real well. Our top four will match up well with just about anybody’s top four.”

Other pitchers include: senior Lane Harmon; and freshmen Korbin Bostic, Jarron Glick, Jared Burnette, Carson Kirk, Chad Burnette, Jordan Hayes and Kolton Goldie. Some of those freshmen were members of Logan’s state championship winning and Southeast Regional qualifying 11-12-year-old Little League All-Star team of 2017.

Harmon is coming off an arm injury from last year and could give Logan some innings and also play first base and right field.

“Lane’s going to give us some innings and so will Hayes. He’s a big strong kid,” Gertz said. “Korbin Bostic is the only left-hander on our team. The only one who throws or hits left-handed. I can’t believe this kid has not pitched in the past. He throws the ball tremendously. Glick is a good freshman who was on that Little League team. Good arm, and a good middle infielder. Kirk is a tremendous athlete and a good hitter.”

Logan returns starting catcher Ethan Carter, a junior. McClung and Hayes could also see time behind the plate. Hayes could also see time in the infield and outfield.

“He caught most every game last year,” Gertz said of Carter. “We DH’d for Ethan last year. He’s swinging the bat real well this spring. He’ll have to provide some punch this year. Hayes is 6-2, 190 and that’s good size for a freshman. He’s a big, strong kid.”

At first base, Beckett is Logan’s likely starter when he’s not pitching. Junior Dorian Keene may also play at first, as well as Harmon.

At second base, McGrew is projected to start for the Cats. He can also play at shortstop.

With Mullins gone, shortstop appears to be Logan’s biggest enigma. McClung, Glick or Kirk could see time there along with Branham.

“Shortstop is the big question for us,” Gertz said. “We lost TJ and he started there for three years for us. Glick is a good middle infielder and a smooth fielder but he had an arm injury last year and doesn’t really trust it to throw. It’s going to depend on who is pitching as who will play at short. Peyton could play there as well but he’s primarily been an outfielder.”

Over at third base, McClung and senior Gunner Conn are the likely candidates.

In the outfield, senior starter Michael Hall is back. Hall, an Honorable Mention All-Conference player last year, will likely man the job in center.

Senior Trent Orso is projected to get the first look in left field along with junior Hunter Mileto.

Harmon could play some in right field. Bostic is also expected to play in the outfield.

Rounding out the roster are: senior outfielders Ryan Blankenship, Tyler Mileto and Justin Belcher; junior outfielder/infielder Branson Gore; junior outfielder Blake Goff; and freshman outfielder Isaiah Tomblin.

Gertz said his team has a good blend of veteran and younger talent.

“We have a boat load of younger players who can play a lot of different positions that are going to push some of these older guys for playing time,” he said. “Good competition is what makes kids better in games and in practice.”

As always, Logan faces a difficult schedule this season within the Cardinal Conference.

The Wildcats also play home-and-home non-conference series with Man, Westside and Class AA sectional foe Lincoln County as well as single games against Class A Charleston Catholic and five-time defending 2A state champion Bridgeport. The Indians play at Logan on April 19.

Logan also has a single game against Belfry, Kentucky.

The Cats once again play in their tough six-team sectional with Man, Chapmanville, Scott, Lincoln County and Mingo Central.

Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at padkins@hdmediallc.com.

2019 Logan High School Baseball Schedule (0-1, 0-1)

March 21: *at Winfield, L 4-5

March 23: *Mingo Central (DH), 1 p.m.

March 25: at Westside, 7 p.m.

March 28: Liberty Raleigh, 7 p.m.

April 1: at Lincoln County, TBA

April 2: *at Poca, 7 p.m.

April 4: *Herbert Hoover, 7 p.m.

April 9: *Chapmanville, 7 p.m.

April 11: Charleston Catholic, 7 p.m.

April 15: Westside, 7 p.m.

April 18: *Winfield, 7 p.m.

April 19: Bridgeport, 5 p.m.

April 20: *Sissonville, 1 p.m.

April 22: Lincoln County, 7 p.m.

April 23: *at Wayne, 7 p.m.

April 26: Belfry, Ky., 7 p.m.

April 30: *at Chapmanville, 7 p.m.

*Cardinal Conference game

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