by Beau Wicker
Logansport senior left-hander Connor Looker had another strong start, and the Berries manufactured more than enough runs in a 6-3 win at Lewis Cass on Monday.
Looker (1-0) followed up a good outing at Lafayette Jeff with another one at Cass, holding the Kings to three runs (one earned) on three hits in six innings of work.
“For the most part Connor had pretty good stuff,” Logan coach Jim Turner said. “They didn’t do a lot with him.”
Looker threw 104 pitches on the night. He pitched around five walks and a hit batsman, striking out six. The Kings (4-1) stranded nine runners in the contest.
“You don’t win many games when you only get three hits, and I think [Noah] Byers had two of the three,” Cass coach Greg Marschand said. “We’ve got to take advantage, we had guys on base several times and we just couldn’t get a break on the hit. But the pitcher did a good job, Logan played a good game. Hat’s off to them, they did a good job.”
Cody Graf pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for the save.
“Not a lot of guys want that pressure situation, so you’ve kind of got to save him out,” Turner said of Graf. “He’s just poised to do that, he’s done it before. That’s why he’s in that position.”
The Berries (4-2) managed just five hits against the Kings but were able to score six runs.
Clayton Frye had a two-run double in the first inning to get the Berries out to an early lead. Cass left fielder Jake Wilburn nearly made a great catch on the play but couldn’t hold on.
The Kings tied it up in the second. Zach McCoy drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk for one of the runs, and the Kings scored another on a Berry error.
The Berries took advantage of a two-base error by the Kings on a leadoff bunt by Nito Luna, who came around to score on a sac fly by Cory Rozzi for a 3-2 lead.
The Kings tied it back up in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Jake Miller following another error by the Berries to start the frame.
Travis Palmer was hit by a pitch and Luna followed with a single to open the fifth to chase Cass starter Connor Adams (2-1). Following a walk to load the bases, Frye and Dustin Clements recorded back-to-back RBI fielder’s choices to give the Berries a 5-3 lead. They added a run in the sixth when Chris Jones drew a leadoff walk, and pinch-runner Zach Key came around to score on a wild pitch.
Adams allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits, two hit batsmen and one walk in four-plus innings. Josh Rankert relieved and allowed one run on no hits in three innings. He walked three and stuck out one.
Byers went 2-for-3 to lead the Kings at the plate.
Palmer doubled and scored two runs for the Berries. Frye went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Luna had a base hit and two runs scored. Clements added a base hit to go with an RBI. Rozzi walked three times to go with his RBI.
But the Berries committed three more errors, which has been a problem in the early season. They did have a couple nice defensive plays in the fourth when Looker robbed McCoy of a bunt hit on a diving toss to first, and Palmer made a diving catch in center on a Wilburn liner.
With all of the rainfall over the last week, teams haven’t had much of a chance to play outside.
“We’re just going to use that excuse as long as we can,” Turner quipped. “It’d be nice to have a practice on the field and work on some things we need to work on.”
As for practicing indoors, the Logan coach said, “It’s different.”
All in all, it was a good early-season matchup of two county rivals with big aspirations for the season.
“It’s nice to play Logan. Logan does a great job,” Marschand said. “They’re a baseball tradition, it’s always nice to play them.
“It’s a measuring stick of where we’re at. It was a good game. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and get back at it.”
Said Turner of the Kings, “They’re a nice team. They’ve got a solid team. They’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Cass hosts Winamac tonight, while Logan next hosts Plymouth on Thursday.