April 2, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – An eight-run first inning was more than enough Saturday for sophomore pitcher Matthias Dietz as the John A. Logan College baseball team romped past visiting Wabash Valley, 10-0, in a game shortened to seven innings due to the 10-run rule.

Dietz struck out nine in his seven shutout frames, allowing a paltry three hits. And he only walked one despite heavy winds in improving to 7-1 on the spring.

“I just tried to pitch to contact today and let the hitters get themselves out,” Dietz said. “The wind blew me off balance a couple of times, but I was able to keep the ball down and throw strikes for the most part.”

In the first, Warriors starter Kyle Griffin got off to a bad start and it only got worse from there. He hit Logan Kaletha to start the frame. Tyler Robertson followed with an RBI double for a 1-0 lead.

Doug Parks walked (he had three on the day). Marshall Gilbert then doubled in Robertson for a 2-0 lead. Parks advanced to third. Tyler Horchem was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jeff Hahs delivered a sac fly to make the score 3-0. Cody Birdsong singled to right to make it 4-0. Batting for the second time in the inning, Kaletha singled in a pair and Robertson doubled home two more, driving Griffin from the game.

“Anytime you get a hit it feels good, especially when they’re extra-base hits,” Robertson said. “I’m just trying to stay aggressive at the plate and hit strikes. I’m also much more confident at the plate now than last year. I think having that year of experience behind me has made a big difference.”

The Vols tacked on a ninth run in the fifth inning when Colin Butkiewicz singled home Hahs, who had reached on an error. The 10th and final run scored in the bottom of the seventh inning as an infield single by Kaletha and throwing error by the Wabash Valley shortstop allowed Hahs to score from second base.

Vols head coach Jerry Halstead was impressed with his team’s play.

“We came out swinging the bats. Their guy (Griffin) didn’t have his best day today, but I would like to think we had something to do with that. The first inning set the tone for the game. We were very pleased to get Dietz such a big lead.”

Halstead said his standout sophomore just gets better as the season continues.

“He’s an elite pitcher. I think everyone pretty much knows that by now. Week after week, he proves it. Wabash was 9-1 in the league just like us going into the game today and only a couple of balls were hit hard against him.”

Halstead also praised the play of Robertson, who led the Vols with three hits – all doubles – and drove in three.

“Tyler was an elite pitcher when he came to us a couple of years ago, but suffered an arm injury, sat out a year from the Tommy John surgery, and has played in the field for us ever since. It’s really a shame his arm hasn’t come around, but he is such a great all-around athlete. He’s playing a very solid shortstop for us. He has great hands, can run, can drive the ball. He’s been a big factor in our lineup day in, day out.”

Also collecting multiple hits for Logan Saturday were Kaletha, Butkiewicz, and Gilbert.

With the win, the Vols improve to 10-1 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and are 23-6 overall. Wabash Valley falls to 9-2 in the league and 23-8 overall. The three-game series shifts to Mount Carmel today for a doubleheader beginning at 1.

“We did what we had to do today on the home field,” Halstead said. “Now, we have to go up there and at least come away with a split to win the series. Of course, we’re going up with the mentality that we’re going to win two.”