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Bryant's squeeze, Sanders' pitching carries Logan into winner's bracket final


Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports


LOGAN Owen Bryant had a go-ahead sacrifice bunt in the sixth, Grayson Sanders hurled a complete game and the Logan Little League beat the Sophia Little League 3-2 Saturday afternoon at Roger E. Gertz Field in the West Virginia Junior League State Tournament.


Sanders allowed two runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked one for Logan, who advances to the winner’s bracket final of the state tournament and will play either Martinsburg or St. Albans on Monday at 3 PM.


Martinsburg and St. Albans was suspended in the top of the second with the game tied at 1. The game will resume Sunday morning at 10 AM. Saturday’s Hedgesville and Trap Hill elimination game, scheduled for 6 PM Saturday, was postponed and will be played Sunday afternoon at 1 PM.


Summersville will play the Martinsburg-St. Albans loser at 4 PM Sunday and Sophia will play the Hedgesville-Trap Hill winner at 7 PM.


Tied at 2 in the sixth, Crew Blankenship and Landon Hall drew a pair of walks to start the inning for Logan. Bentley Williamson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up 90 feet. Bryant followed Williamson’s bunt with a sacrifice of his own up the first base line to score Blankenship with the go-ahead run.


David Browning appeared to ground out to Colyn Smith, but the first base umpire ruled that first basemen Hunter Milam pulled off the first bag allowing Browning to reach base safely.


With one out and the bases loaded for Sanders, Logan appeared to be in prime position to add to its 3-2 lead, however as Sanders squared to bunt, he was unable to successfully execute the squeeze attempt as Hall raced from third base.


Hall slid in safely for what appeared to be the second run of the sixth, but Hall was called out as the home plate umpire called obstruction on Sanders for failure to get out of the box. Sanders flew out to shortstop as Logan took a one-run lead to end the sixth.


Sophia had two opportunities to tie or take the lead in the sixth and seventh, however, they were unable to push across the game tying and winning runs.


The 12th batter in Sophia’s lineup, Jacob Grimmett singled with one out in the sixth bringing the top of the lineup to the plate. Leadoff hitter Milam lifted a fly ball into foul territory that third basemen Williamson was able to catch over his shoulder on the run for the second out.


What happened next was the play that proved to be crucial in a one-run game, Sophia shortstop Hunter Austin lined a 1-2 pitch from Sanders to the left centerfield gap that would appear to tie the game as Grimmett raced home from first base, however, the ball checked up in the gap as Blankenship was able to get to it and fire a strike to shortstop Landon Hall, who fired a missile to catcher Riley McClung, chasing Grimmett back to third and keeping Logan ahead by one.


Logan manager Doug Williamson called time to speak with Sanders and his team. Williamson faced with a decision to pull Sanders, who had thrown 66 pitches after the double to Austin or allow him to finish the inning.


Sanders, who Williamson allowed to pitch despite his pitcher’s desire to exit the game, got Carter Hajash to fly out to Browning in foul territory to end the inning.


In the seventh, Sophia got a double from Andrew Coalson and a single from Drake Cook with two outs, but Sanders got Brayden Gambrell to fly out to Hall at short to end the game.


Sophia used three different pitchers in the contest, holding Logan to just one hit, a bunt single off the bat of Blankenship in the third inning. Smith, the third of those pitchers, took the loss after allowing one run and no hits, striking out three and walking two in 3 1/3 strong innings.


Austin started for Sophia and was pulled after throwing 48 pitches in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on one hit, walked two and struck out one. Milam walked one and struck out one in his lone inning of relief.


Austin put Sophia up 1-0 in the first inning when scored on an error by the left fielder.


Logan plated two runs in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead. Gabe Goldie scored on Alex Good’s RBI groundout to even the score and special pinch runner Alex Good scored on a throwing error to give Logan the lead.


Sophia tied it in the fourth on Coalson’s sacrifice fly to center field scoring Smith from third base just ahead of Blankenship’s throw and McClung’s tag.


Smith had two hits including a double and scored a run for Sophia. Coalson had a double and one RBI, Austin doubled and scored one run and Cook, Grimmett and Damian Smith each had one hit.


Bryant and Good each one RBI while Blankenship, Goldie and Good scored one run apiece for Logan.



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