The Logan-Rogersville High School baseball team chose an inopportune time to play a sub-par game, falling by a 9-5 score to Springfield Catholic in Monday night’s semifinals of the Class 4 District 11 tournament.
Though it is little consolation to the Rogersville faithful, the Wildcats were in good company as upset losers Monday night. Two-time defending state champion Aurora, the district’s top seed, was beaten 5-1 by fifth-seeded Hollister in the evening’s other semifinal.
The pair of semifinal upsets underlines the quality of competition present in District 11 this season, making it a district in which there were no pushover teams. The bottom seed among the six teams was Reeds Spring, which entered the tourney with an 11-7 record.
“There’s little doubt in my mind that this is the toughest district, top to bottom, in the state,” said Wildcat head coach Casey Ledl. “I wish I could say something tonight that would explain it, but we just didn’t play well. They just played a lot better than we did. This time of year, it comes down to one play, one pitch. They made plays tonight and we didn’t.”
Pitchers and hitters from both teams had some difficulty adjusting to what seemed to be an often small and sometimes floating strike zone. That combination yielded a lot of both walks and strikeouts. Rogersville hitters struck out 10 times — five times looking — but also received nine bases on balls.
All the free passes might have resulted in a windfall of runs had the Wildcats not been limited to only four base hits on the night.
Rogersville’s starting pitcher, junior Thomas Kane, had some control issues, exacerbated by the shrunken strike zone. After a scoreless first inning, the Wildcats fell into an early hole in the top of the second, as a pair of Catholic hits were augmented by three walks and an outfield error, resulting in five runs.
Rogersville got one of the runs back in the bottom of the frame, when Owen Christian singled home fellow junior Trey McDaniel, who had reach base by taking a pitch off the left hip and had chugged around to third base after an errant pick-off attempt at first base.
The Irish added two runs in the top of the third — again benefiting from a trio of walks, which signaled the end of the night on the mound for Kane, though he stayed in the game at second base. Senior Austin Hall came in and restored some order, limiting the Irish to two runs in the remaining four-plus innings.
In the bottom of the third, the Wildcats were able to cash in on the narrow strike zone, as they wrapped four walks (and a pair of wild pitches) around an RBI triple off the bat of Kane. Three runs in the inning closed the gap to 7-4.
From that point on, however, the Rogersville offense fizzled, scoring only one more run on the night, as an RBI groundout by senior Caleb Casanova plated junior AJ Craft in the sixth.
The loss ends the Wildcats’ season with an 18-9 record.