Sophomore Keelin Rasch banged out four hits and drove in four runs, including a three-run homer, and sophomore Zac Mishler stroked four hits and also drove in four runs to lead the John A. Logan College baseball team to a doubleheader sweep of visiting Mineral Area College Tuesday.
The Vols, now 24-19 overall, won the opener, 15-5 in five innings, and then earned a hard-fought 4-2 victory in the nightcap over a Cardinals team that was 29-10 coming into the day.
A Harrisburg native, Rasch said getting a pair of wins after losing two of three over the weekend to Lake Land College, was a boost to the team morale.
“I think we really needed this,” he said. “We didn’t play our best ball over the weekend, so getting a couple of wins definitely helps to get us back on the right track.”
Rasch’s home run in Game 1 was his fifth of the season, a team high. He has also driven in 34 runs to lead the team. The sophomore has raised his batting average to.342, and his 52 hits ranks him second only to Anthony Bayus’s 55.
“I’m just trying to slow things down when I’m at the plate,” Rasch said. “I’m seeing the ball pretty well right now.”
Things did not appear so rosy for Logan in the opener as the Cardinals put up a five spot in the top of the first inning against Vols starter, Austin Denault. But it was all Logan from that point forward.
The Vols sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and posted nine runs on five hits. Mark Self had a two-run single. J.C. Davis had an RBI from a bases-loaded walk. Mishler singled home two. Tanner Scott singled in a run and Rasch followed with his three-run bomb to left.
Logan tacked on four runs in the third with RBIs from Mishler, Scott and Rasch again. The game ended in the bottom of the fifth inning of the scheduled seven-inning contest when the Vols tallied two more runs. Mishler singled in a run and Bayus followed suit.
Denault, after his first-inning struggles, settled down and shut out the Cardinals the next four innings on one hit. He helped himself out by picking off a stunning three Mineral Area baserunners. For the game, he struck out two and walked four in improving his personal record to 3-3 on the spring.
Vols head coach Jerry Halstead was pleased with the outburst of scoring and deferred credit to his assistant coach, Kyle Surprenant, who works primarily with the hitters.
“I thought Kyle’s superior coaching skills with the hitters really showed today,” Halstead said. “He unleashed the bats on Mineral Area. He gets all the credit for this one.”
Page 2 of 2 - In Game 2, another Harrisburg native, Tyler McGowan, was a key factor in a win. The freshman righthander took care of business on the mound in leading the Vols to a 4-2 win. McGowan evened his record to 2-2 on the spring with the win. He went six innings, allowed two unearned runs on only two hits, struck out seven and walked seven.
Sophomore Anthony Spangler came on in relief in the seventh inning with one on and no outs and worked out of the jams to record his third save.
Trailing 2-1 in the second inning, DeJohn Suber tied the game with an RBI single to center. Logan took the lead at 3-2 in the third when Derek Repking drove in a run with a groundout. The Vols added an insurance run in the fifth when Rasch singled, was bunted to second by Bayus and scored on a single to right by Self.
Logan had 23 hits on the day – 12 in Game 1 and 11 more in Game 2.
“Hitting is contagious,” Halstead said. “Today, we hit the ball a lot and we hit it hard for the most part. That nine spot we put up in the second inning of Game 1 was the most runs we’ve put up in any inning all year. Hopefully, we’re settling in here and will get on a roll.”
Not to be overlooked was the defensive efforts of Suber, who has been switched from shortstop to rightfield. The freshman from Chicago made a Jim Edmonds-type catch with his back completely to the infield near the warning track in the opener. He followed up that gem with a racing catch in foul ground next to the wagon gate in Game 2 and put an exclamation point on his day when he threw out a pinch runner attempting to go from first to third after an errant pickoff attempt at first base.
“DeJohn was drafted as a shortstop, so there’s some serious talent there,” Halstead said. “He’s never played the outfield, but we were in a position injury-wise where we needed to get one of our best athletes in the outfield. And let me tell you, he showed a Major League-plus arm when we took infield practice before the game at Lake Land Sunday. And we saw that again today. It won’t take long for the word to get out about what he’s done in the outfield. The two catches he made today…you don’t see those made at this level. They were big-time catches and that throw was a big-time throw.”
The Vols are scheduled to play host to Southwestern Illinois at 3 p.m. Thursday and will travel to Belleville in a return match Saturday at noon.