Winfield, Bumgarner blank Logan
WINFIELD, W.Va. - As a member of the Winfield golf team and a player in the Top Flite Junior Tour, Josh Bumgarner's athletic highlight prior to this year was an ace he carded on a par-3 hole last summer.
But now, as a member of the Winfield baseball team, he's become one.
Bumgarner stymied a potent Logan offense, striking out seven and firing his second-straight one-hit shutout in the postseason as Winfield earned a 5-0 upset win on Monday to advance to the Class AAA Region 4 final.
The Generals (15-16) will host Cabell Midland at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday with an improbable berth into the state tournament on the line.
It's the second year in a row that Winfield has pulled this kind of shenanigans in the postseason after it ousted then-No. 1 Hurricane in last year's sectional final.
"We do a lot of stuff different here," Bumgarner explained. "We lift throughout the year and I think that helps us a lot because we're a lot stronger at the end of the year than everyone else is. We just peak at the right time. We're not nervous at all in these games. We're not even top 10 in the state and we play teams that are. They have a lot of expectations and we don't have anything. We just play our hearts out and make it happen."
Bumgarner's heroics weren't limited to the mound as he also drove in three runs and went 2 for 3.
Tthe senior didn't commit to coming out for baseball until September after deciding not to pursue golf in college (he carries a 1.6 handicap).
He hadn't played baseball since his freshman year, but he is fully coming into his own just in the nick of time for the Generals.
"Last year, I kept asking him and asking him and I guess he wanted to put everything into his senior golf season," Winfield coach Will Isaacs said. "But I just kept mentioning it. As soon as the regional golf season was over, he came out, started lifting weights, and led from Day 1.
"He's hitting third, he's got eight wins, and he's got a winning demeanor. I'm very thankful that he came out."
Bumgarner said he is learning to like the crowd noise and excitement of the baseball diamond compared to the quiet, polite environment of the golf course.
"I've hit some good golf shots but nothing has come close to this," Bumgarner said. "With the fans and stuff, this is crazy."
And he was crazy good on Monday.
Consider that in two previous meetings between the two teams, the No. 9 Wildcats outscored Winfield 21-3 in a pair of blowout wins.
But Alex Lakatos' third-inning single was about all the damage Logan (20-10) could muster on Monday. After Bumgarner struck out the side in the seventh to end the game, Logan and coach Roger Gertz were faced with a long drive home and a much longer offseason.
"He dominated us, he really did," Gertz said. "He kept the ball where he needed to. He'd run it in on us and we'd jam it and hit easy groundballs and popups. We may not have hit the ball hard but once or twice. He did a great job."
Isaacs credits Bumgarner's development of a slider that looks like a cut fastball for his dominance as of late.
"He hadn't pitched in two years and for his first seven or eight starts, it was just fastball, curve," Isaacs said. "But the last three, we started incorporating his slider. I bet he threw it 60 percent of the time tonight and it's really been the difference."
Lakatos' leadoff hit followed by an error by Bumgarner on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Trent Dalton started what looked like an early threat from Logan. After Kyle Harvey sacrificed, the Wildcats had runners on second and third with one out and the top of the order up.
But Josh Rein grounded out to second and Chase Preston followed with a fly ball to right and Logan never seriously threatened again.
Jordan Clark had a pair of hits, including a two-run double in the fifth to stretch Winfield's lead to 3-0. Brandon Wright and Bryan Bosley also each had two singles for the Generals.
Other than Bumgarner's hiccup on the bunt, Winfield played errorless baseball and the defense contributed greatly to the win, including a stretch in which Bumgarner got six outs on just 11 pitches over the fourth and fifth innings.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/Rpritt.