March 12, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CENTRALIA – Despite trailing in both games, the John A. Logan College baseball team twice rallied to sweep a doubleheader at Kaskaskia College Friday afternoon, 7-1 and 12-7.

With the wins, the Volunteers move to 2-0 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and to 14-3 overall. Kaskaskia falls to 0-2 in the league, 4-5 overall.

“Kaskaskia’s a tough place to play and they’re a good ballclub,” said Logan head coach Jerry Halstead. “They threw two pretty good arms (southpaw Sidney Duprey in Game 1 and righthander Mason McReaken in Game 2) at us today. We got down, but did a good job of grinding out some at bats, and when we finally got into their bullpen, we got some things done and scored some runs.”

JALC sophomore righthander Matthias Dietz pitched a nine-inning complete game in the opener to pick up the victory. He is now 4-1 on the spring. He allowed only one run on five hits, while striking out four and walking one. The only run came in the second inning when the Blue Devils’ Misael LeBron doubled in Muta Crusoe.

“He had a rough inning in the second, but he battled out there today,” Halstead said of Dietz’s performance. “As the game wore on, he showed why he is one of the better pitchers in the country. He did a good job of holding the score at 1-0 and gave our offense a chance to come back and get the win for us.”

Dietz said he was relieved to get the victory for his team.

“I was just trying to hit my spots. I had a little bit of everything working for me today. Fortunately, I was able to throw strikes.”

Duprey had Logan handcuffed through the first seven innings, shutting them out on only three hits – all off the bat of sophomore shortstop Tyler Robertson.

“I was just taking what the pitcher was giving to me,” Robertson said. “I’ll take what I can get. With our stacked lineup, it’s a little unusual that I had our only hits through the first seven innings.”

In the top of the eighth, the Vols finally broke free of their restraints. Ben Smith led off with a single. Lucas Larson was inserted as a pinch runner. Logan Kaletha singled into center, advancing Larson to third. Robertson then walked to load the bases.

A bases-loaded walk to Dougie Parks tied the game at 1-1. Marshall Gilbert followed with an RBI single to give the Vols the lead at 2-1. One out later, Cody Birdsong drove in a run with an infield single and an additional run scored on the play to make it 4-1 when Kaskaskia shortstop Carlos Texidor committed a throwing error.  

Logan added three insurance runs in the ninth. The highlights included an RBI single by Parks and RBI double from Gilbert.

In Game 2, the Vols quickly fell behind 3-0 as the Blue Devils plated three runs in the bottom of the second off starter, Bobby Pennington.

Logan got on the scoreboard in the fourth when catcher Colin Butkiewicz doubled home Horchem, who had been hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.

Logan then sprinted into the lead with a six-run fifth inning. Kaletha singled. Robertson singled. Parks advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Gilbert doubled into right center to drive in both runs and tie the game at 3-3. After Horchem flied out to center, Halstead inserted Ben Smith as a pinch hitter for Birdsong. Smith delivered an RBI single to give Logan the lead.

“I feel pretty good at the plate right now,” Smith said. “I was sitting fastball and got one. I really love being a part of this team and contributing where I can.”

Jeff Hahs then singled and Butkiewicz singled two more runs home for a 6-3 advantage.

The Vols weren’t done.

Landon Harris tripled home a run and then scored on an RBI single by Kaletha, his second hit of the inning, for an 8-3 lead.

Kaskaskia fought back, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth to close within one at 8-7, but the Vols put an exclamation point on the win with four more runs in the sixth inning. Parks doubled and scored when Gilbert belted a two-run homer to left. Horchem singled. Smith again singled. Hahs roped an RBI single and Butkiewicz drove in a run on a ground ball booted by the second baseman.

Pennington worked 4 1/3 innings to get the win, his third of the spring against no losses. Peyton Cypress worked the final 2 2/3 innings to earn the save.

“You look up at the end of the game and see we got 12 runs on 20 hits in a seven-inning game,” Halstead said. “All in all, the hitters did a great job. Bobby knows he’s got to do better and Peyton did a good job coming out of the bullpen. We’ve been behind several times now, but we’re in the conference part of our schedule now and we’re going to see everybody’s best pitchers. We have to come ready to play.”

Logan will play the final game of the three-game series with Kaskaskia at 3 p.m. on Monday in Carterville, weather permitting.