May 25, 2013

Logan, Cass baseball teams gear up for sectional battles

Berries face Lafayette Jeff; Kings face No. 1 Northfield.

by Beau Wicker

— Logansport’s baseball team recorded a solid win over Harrison on Wednesday.

The Berries need two more wins on Memorial Day to claim the Class 4A Kokomo Sectional title.

The Berries (17-9) face Lafayette Jeff (18-12) in the 10 a.m. semifinal. McCutcheon (19-9) and Kokomo (13-10) meet in the later semifinal. The final is set for 7 p.m.

Logansport coach Jim Turner said he’s unsure who will get the start on the mound for the Berries. Junior right-hander Kyle Jordan got the start against Harrison and pitched six solid innings in Logan’s 8-0 win on Wednesday.

“It’s between three guys, Connor Looker, Kyle Jordan or Clayton Frye,” Turner said of who will get the start. “We’ll do a little scouting and see who fits the best, that’s where we’re at.”

Jordan is 3-1 with a 2.02 ERA, Frye is 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA and Looker is 2-1 with a 3.58 ERA.

The Berries also have other options out of the bullpen in Cody Graf (2.71 ERA), Dustin Clements (3.82 ERA), Travis Palmer (0.55 ERA) and Zach Shilts (4.26 ERA).

The Bronchos will likely counter with either Griff Clark (8-1, 1.79 ERA) or Peter Ripke (5-2, 2.73 ERA).

Ripke, who will play at Vincennes University, is hitting .318 with six home runs and 28 RBIs to lead the Bronchos. He hit two home runs against the Berries in Logan’s 8-6 win in 11 innings back on April 5. He then hit two more home runs during the regular season before hitting two more in the 16-4 sectional win over Marion on Wednesday.

Palmer is hitting .346 with 19 runs scored to lead the Berries. Tommy Corcoran is hitting .330 with 26 runs scored.

Frye is hitting .310 with 21 RBIs and hit his fourth home run of the season against Harrison on Wednesday. Cory Rozzi is hitting .329 with 14 RBIs, and Clements is hitting .303 with 16 RBIs. Jacob Shelton has gotten more playing time down the stretch of the season and is 17 for 38 (.447) at the plate.

McCutcheon enters as the sectional favorite. The Mavericks have been ranked for much of the season, including No. 1 back in April. The Mavericks are led by senior right-hander Justin Curry (4-1, 0.41 ERA), who will play at Heartland Community College in Peoria, Ill.

It remains to be seen if Curry will pitch against Kokomo, which ended a four-game losing streak with a win over Fishers last Monday.

“Jake [Burton]’s usual approach is to win the tournament. He will throw his No. 1 [in the first game], but most of the time he won’t throw his No. 1,” Turner said.

The Wildkats’ ace, Parker Sanburn, an Arkansas recruit, is dealing with an arm injury and is likely unavailable to pitch in the sectional.

Class 2A Wabash Sectional

Lewis Cass will take an 18-6 record into Monday’s 1 p.m. game against No. 1-ranked Northfield (24-3).

Oak Hill (9-17) will face Wabash (17-10) in the 11 a.m. semifinal. The final is set for 7:30 p.m.

Northfield features senior left-hander Ryan Keaffaber, who pitched the Norsemen to a state championship a year ago. The Indiana State recruit is 9-1 with a 0.55 ERA this season. He has 134 strikeouts and has allowed just 26 hits and 15 walks in 64 innings pitched. He’s averaging 14.7 strikeouts per seven innings.

Cass coach Greg Marschand said the Kings are prepared to face Keaffaber, who they haven’t faced this season.

“We see him every year come tournament time,” Marschand said. “We know he’s an outstanding baseball player and very good pitcher. I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait till Monday gets here.”

Austin Clem leads the Kings at the plate. The Huntington University recruit is hitting .431 with four home runs and 35 RBIs.

“There’s nobody who loves baseball more than Austin,” Marschand said. “He’s a pleasure to have around. He has endless enthusiasm.

“He’s had five knee operations, so it’s pretty special for the young man to do what he does. Most guys would have hung it up.”

R.J. Phillips has come back from an early season injury to hit .380 for the Kings. The versatile Jake Wilburn is hitting .377 with a team-high 27 runs scored. Ryan Bixler is right behind with a .375 average and 21 runs scored. Zach McCoy has missed a good chunk of the season with an injury but is hitting .351 with 15 stolen bases and 20 runs scored. Kyle Dwiggins is hitting .346 with 27 RBIs and 20 runs scored. Noah Byers adds a .310 batting average.

The Kings have a 1.63 team ERA. Marschand said he is unsure who will get the start against Northfield. Sophomore Josh Rankert (5-1, 0.78 ERA) got the start against Southwood in Thursday’s 11-1 sectional win and held the Knights to one run on one hit with nine strikeouts in seven innings.

Connor Adams is 5-3 with a 1.78 ERA. John Hartley (3.68 ERA), Wilburn (2.43 ERA), Dakota Hammond (2.10 ERA) and Blake Cain (0.39 ERA) are other options out of the bullpen.