May 8, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE - An inability to pitch effectively combined with inconsistent hitting and one costly error led to an unexpected ouster from postseason play for the John A. Logan College baseball team. 

Lake Land College of Mattoon won the deciding game Sunday in the best-of-three series, 12-8, and will advance to the semifinal round at Logan this Friday. 

It may be the first time a No. 8 seed has knocked off a No. 1 seed in the quarterfinal round.

The Volunteers finish their season 44-11, the most wins for a Logan team in 10 years. 

And while they can lay claim to the fact that they were without the services of their leading hitter Sunday, freshman catcher Marshall Gilbert, it was their pitching that let them down.

Freshman Jerred Quartier has been solid all spring, but not on this day. He started for Logan and could only last 1 1/3 innings. Quartier allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits. 

Another freshman, Patrick McBride, relieved Quartier in the second inning and worked his way out of a jam, but was constantly pitching into and out of trouble thereafter. He went 4 2/3 innings and surrendered three runs on four hits with four walks and two hit batsmen.

Sophomore A.P. Novak relieved in the seventh and was immediately tagged for three additional runs right after the Vols had closed to within one at 9-8. 

That surge broke the Vols' backs. Novak did manage to throw a scoreless eighth and ninth.

Offensively, redshirt freshman Logan Kaletha slugged a three-run homer in the second inning. 

Sophomore shortstop Tyler Robertson had a two-run single in the sixth, which offset an error in the first inning that allowed two runs to score.

Sophomore third baseman Doug Parks contributed a solo homer. Freshman Cody Birdsong had a pair of singles. Freshman Ben Smith had a base hit and sophomore Jeff Hahs chipped in a sacrifice fly. 

Gimpy sophomore outfielder Tyler Horchem was moved to designated hitter and went an uncharacteristic 0-4. Sophomore Aaron Fuller scored a pair of runs, but did not record a hit.

Vols head coach Jerry Halstead was disappointed with the final result.

"I didn't think we played many phases of the game well today," he said. "Our pitching was not good at all, certainly not where it needed to be. And then offensively, we only put up five hits. That's not going to get it done very often."

Halstead offered no excuses for the loss despite playing without Gilbert.

"I thought Colton Bryant played very well behind the plate today. He was definitely not the reason we lost. 

"If you're going to win championships and go deep into the postseason, you have to have certain guys step up, and today, we didn't have many guys do that," Halstead said. "It all starts (with the guy) on the bump."

Halstead said postseason failure does not take away the team's regular-season success, which resulted in a Great Rivers Athletic Conference title and No. 9 ranking nationally.

"We had a good year. Sure, it's disappointing for things to finish the way they did, but it wasn't from lack of effort."

Halstead is retiring in August. His 33-year record at Logan is 1,292 wins against 712 losses. He won nine Region 24 titles and 11 GRAC championships.

Assistant coach Kyle Surprenant is the heir apparent to replace Halstead.