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Chuck Landon: St. Joe got short end of seeding

May 28, 2019

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

We serve no opinion before its time.

>> Huntington St. Joe’s baseball team is getting purloined.

Sure, the Irish will get to compete in the State High School Tournament for the first time in 32 years at 10 a.m. Friday in Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

And, yes, that is great.

But.

St. Joe was seeded only No. 4 among the four Class A competitors meaning the Irish will be playing top-seeded Moorefield on Friday.

That prompts a serious question.

Shouldn’t St. Joe have been seeded higher?

It certainly seems that way.

It all began when St. Joe was seeded only No. 3 in Region IV, Section 2 behind No. 1 Sherman and No. 2 Buffalo. The Irish proceeded to show how bogus the seeding was by routing Sherman, 14-1, and winning two out of three games against Buffalo.

Then, St. Joe swept Wahama, 9-2 and 7-0, in the Class A, Region IV tournament.

Furthermore, St. Joe has a 7-1 record in postseason play and has out-scored opponents by an eye-popping 74-16. Want more? Irish hurlers have tossed shutouts in four of the eight postseason games.

Yet, when state tournament seeding was compiled, there was St. Joe again getting the short end of the seeding stick. How short? St. Joe defeated Charleston Catholic both times they played this season, yet Charleston Catholic is still the No. 2 seed while St. Joe is No. 4.

It doesn’t make sense.

That’s because the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s policy of allowing the coaches to vote on regional and sectional seeding in softball, baseball and both girls and boys basketball, throws the door wide-open for sand-bagging.

One coach can purposely seed an opponent lower than it deserves in this procedure. And that produces situations like St. Joe being seeded too low in sectionals, regionals and, now, the state tournament.

The seeding system obviously needs to be fixed. It should be performed by a panel that has no vested interest in the outcome.

But in the meantime?

Well, St. Joe has a 21-10 record and appears to be on a mission. The Irish have been fighting an uphill battle all season, so who says St. Joe can’t do it again on Friday?

It should be fun to watch.

>> Marshall University’s baseball program learned two important facts during the Thundering Herd’s three games in the Conference USA Tournament.

No. 1, Marshall can compete.

No. 2, Marshall’s pitching has to get a lot better.

The Herd used 12 different pitchers in the C-USA Tournament. Sophomore Philip Hoffman threw in relief in all three games. Then, D’Andre Knight, Robert Kwiatkowski, Hunter Sexton, Ryan Falls, Garett Priestley and Michael Guerrero pitched in two of the three contests.

The issue was control.

Marshall’s pitchers combined to walk 30 batters, throw nine wild pitches and hit five batters with pitches in three games. Of the 20 runs Marshall’s pitchers allowed, 19 were earned.

Junior relievers Michael Guerrero and Hunter Sexton struggled noticeably. Guerrero walked five batters, threw four wild pitches, gave up two hits and hit a batter in four innings. In one game, he walked a run home and also wild-pitched a run home.

Sexton simply couldn’t throw strikes. In two appearances, he pitched 0.2 innings and walked four of the six batters he faced.

The good news?

Marshall has 17 pitchers returning for the 2020 season.

They will get better.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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