May 10, 2014

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

MARION – The losses don’t get much more painful than what the John A. Logan College baseball team experienced Saturday.

The No. 4-seed Volunteers were on the verge of upsetting the top seed in Region 24 tournament play, Wabash Valley, after taking a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. Unfortunately for Logan, the lead would not hold as the Warriors rallied for a 5-4 victory in semifinal round action of the tourney.

Angel Alicea led off the ninth for the Warriors with a single to right. Jadier Estrada bunted pinchrunner Connor Hill to second. Claudio Rubiera then singled to left to tie the game. Rey Perez next hit a drive into left center. It appeared that Vols’ centerfielder Joba Ferrell would catch the ball, but indecisiveness got him caught in between going for the ball and laying back on it, and the ball got past him to the fence for an error, allowing Rubiera to score the winning run.

“We were sitting in pretty good shape after taking a 4-1 lead in the sixth, and then it was just a matter of could we manage the outs?” said JALC head coach Jerry Halstead. “Obviously, we did not. It was a good effort. We pushed Wabasj. We made them work for it. They didn’t come in and just blow us away. We played well enough to win. We just didn’t finish it off.”

Logan took a 1-0 lead in the second inning without the aid of a hit. Culver Plant walked, was bunted to second by Jamal Fletcher, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.

The Great Rivers Athletic Conference champion tied the score off Vols’ lefty starter Joey Marciano in the fifth inning when Estrada walked and came around to score on a two-out single up by the middle by Manuel DeJesus.

Logan bounced back in the sixth. Tanner Scott and Culver Plant singled. Jamal Fletcher then drove one well over the left field fence off Warriors’ lefty starter, Phillip Diehl, for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead.

Marciano labored through a scoreless sixth, but his high pitch count forced him from the game in the seventh after giving up a leadoff double to Estrada.

Freshman Jake Herron relieved Marciano. He struck out Rubiera for the first out, but then surrendered an RBI double to Perez to make the score 4-2. Perez then stole third and Vols’ third sacker, Plant, let Konner Lutz’s throw elude him for an error, cutting the deficit to one at 4-3.

Logan put the first two batters on base in the eighth as Scott had an infield hit and Plant walked, but Warriors’ reliever, Travis Herrin, bounced back to retire the side. He struck out Fletcher, who failed to execute a sacrifice bunt. He struck out Kyle Schneider and got Lutz to pop out to third to end the threat.

Logan’s Herron was credited with the loss. He allowed three runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings, while striking out three and walking none. Marciano gave up two runs on three hits in six innings and struck out a whopping 10, but walked six.

Wabash Valley’s Herrin earned the win in relief of Diehl. He tossed three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit with two strikeouts.

“Joey’s his own worst enemy,” Halstead said of Marciano. “He got himself in trouble with the walks and had a lot of 3-2 counts, which elevated his pitch count.”

Logan is now 25-21 overall and will attempt to battle back to the finals through the loser’s bracket beginning at 10 today. Wabash improves to 43-11 and plays at 1 today.