WINFIELD – Logan junior Zach Minnick, one of the state’s top players, tossed a five-inning shutout at Winfield Tuesday evening, though the more important storyline lied within the Wildcats’ bats.
Minnick struck out six and did not walk a batter, but the team showed its greatest stride hitting as Logan won at Winfield, 10-0.
“It feels pretty good,” Minnick said of his first pitching decision of the season. “It’s more important that our bats started coming around. Some of our younger players got some confidence tonight. Our sophomore (Chase Burnette) went 3-for-3, a couple RBIs.”
At first, the Wildcats struck with well-placed, softly struck hits and took advantage of a couple Winfield defensive miscues, though Logan left its mark with several hard smashes, too.
“Eventually we did hit the ball, we got a lot of seeing-eye hits there early,” Wildcats coach Roger Gertz said. “We did make some solid contact there, though. Chase Burnette hit the ball hard.”
Burnette, a sophomore who filled as designated hitter on Tuesday, finished 3-for-3, including a double a three RBI.
“I’m seeing the ball well, getting my hands through the zone,” Burnette said. “It felt real good. Everybody contributed, played good defensively and offensively, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Logan scored each of its three first-inning runs with two outs and later scored several more runs on one- and two-out rallies.
“That’s real important, especially with runners in scoring position,” Minnick said of hitting with two outs. “It shows a lot about their focus at the plate and even though they may have one or two strikes, they’re still showing composure that young.”
Gertz said he’s pleased to see the improvement in Logan’s hitting success via making contact.
“The last two or three games we’ve had 10 strike outs a game, our guys striking out,” he said. “When you only have to field 10 or 11 balls, it makes it a whole lot easier than having to field 15 or 16. Tonight, we put the bat on the ball a little better, and hopefully that’ll continue.”
For Winfield, the contact and hits escaped the Generals’ bats.
“When you get, what we had five hits (Monday vs. Nitro) and two hits tonight, your best hope is a 0-0 score and the lights don’t work, because you’re not going to win a game if you don’t score, obviously,” Winfield coach Will Isaacs said.
The Generals struggled defensively, too, compounding the squad’s offensive woes.
“We’ve got to do a better job pitching to contact and then making the plays behind it,” Isaacs said.
In the first inning, the Wildcats scored three runs with two outs, taking advantage of a misplayed fly ball that resulted in a Burnette RBI double, followed by a two-out, two-run single.
“We should have been out of the first inning with no runs scored,” Isaacs said. “There were three unearned runs there.”
In the third inning, Burnette ripped a single to right field. The right fielder misplayed the ball allowing Burnette to reach second and ahead of Burnette, Troy Burgess scored on the error.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Burgess walked to bring home Logan’s fifth run. Burnette then followed with another two-out hit, a two-run single down the left field line to extend the Wildcats’ advantage to 7-0.
Logan added three more runs in the top of the fifth inning before Minnick cemented the win in the bottom half of the inning.
Minnick allowed just two hits for the game.
“My goal was just to get out there and throw strikes and let my defense do it,” he said. “I had a bunch of ground ball, fly ball outs. I just like using my fielders and trust them.”
Winfield next plays host to Point Pleasant 7 p.m. today, while Logan plays host to Lincoln County 7 p.m. Thursday.