Logan's Morrison blanks SA 10-0 in baseball sectional
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- One day earlier, St. Albans was able to overcome its own mistakes to score a sectional victory at Nitro. On Thursday, the Red Dragons weren't so fortunate.
Johnny Morrison was masterful, firing a six-inning four-hitter with six strikeouts to lead Logan to a 10-0 victory in Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 at SA's Loftis Field.
The win leaves Logan (18-8), the No. 10 team in the Gazette's Class AAA state ratings, in the driver's seat in the three-way sectional, as both SA and Nitro hold one loss in the double-elimination format. The Wildcats host Nitro (19-11) at 6:30 tonight.
Morrison was backed by an 11-hit attack, including a two-run homer in the third inning from Zach Minnick (2 for 2, three RBIs). Josh Rein also had two hits and two RBIs and Chase Preston drove in a pair.
Logan coach Roger Gertz didn't want his players celebrating too much, knowing that fortunes can change in a day's time.
"I told them if we lose tomorrow night, we're right back where we were tonight,'' Gertz said. "Tomorrow's so big. They were out there jumping around and I said, '[St. Albans] was out there jumping around last night.' You can't think ahead. It's not over. Of course, we're in a good situation [but] they've got a good ballclub.''
St. Albans showed a few flaws in Wednesday's 4-1 win at Nitro, committing three errors and having its 3-4-5 hitters go a combined 0 for 10. Against Logan, the Red Dragons ballooned to six errors, walked four batters and hit one.
"We just didn't come to play,'' said SA coach Rick Whitman. "We weren't focused and when you're not focused you don't make routine plays, you walk guys - all that stuff. That's my fault. We obviously weren't ready to play and it's my responsibility to get these guys ready to play. I'll have to do a better job of that come Saturday.''
The Red Dragons advanced just one runner into scoring position against Morrison, that coming in the first inning when they got two of their four singles. Further indignity was added when Minnick, the Logan catcher, picked a pair of runners off first base.
"We're so much stronger when he's behind the plate,'' Gertz said of Minnick, who's perhaps the Wildcats' top pitcher. "He's got a tremendous arm. He gives us a different dimension back there.
"We've got our defense pretty much in place when [Morrison's] on the mound, and he's been pitching great for us all year long. He's pitched in a lot of big games, and we've got a lot of confidence in him.''
Morrison appeared to get stronger as the game went on, even though he sat in the dugout for long stretches as Logan sent 28 batters to the plate over its last four innings.
"I pretty much sit down and get off my legs a little bit,'' Morrison said. "When I get out there, I move around and stretch and get myself back into it. You just have to go out there and get loose.
"I just feel stronger later in the game. Early in the season, our coaches have us throw a lot of bullpen work so we feel more tired than we do at the beginning of the game. It gets us used to the feeling.''
SA was able to get 12/3 innings of relief from Joey Dodrill, one of its top pitchers who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury. He got the Red Dragons out of a jam in the fourth but allowed two runs in the fifth.
The Red Dragons sit out today as Logan hosts Nitro. If Logan wins, SA plays at Logan at 3 p.m. Saturday. If Nitro wins, SA hosts Nitro Saturday at noon.
Whitman hopes his team returns to top form.
"When somebody punches you in the mouth,'' Whitman said, "you just stagger around the rest of the game, and that's what we did. We'll have to regroup Saturday.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.