Logan Bell gets tested in first year with the Zips

Sports

Bell helps the Akron Zips baseball program return after a three-year hiatus

Lisbon Blue Devils Logan Bell Diamond Kings

LISBON, OHIO (WKBN) – In the normal world, we would be providing details of collegiate baseball games in the sports pages.  But with the coronavirus putting a screeching halt to baseball, players can only dream of what could have been.

Former Lisbon Blue Devils pitcher Logan Bell is one of those players that didn’t get the chance to participate in a full season of games this spring.  Bell, a PBR All-Ohio, an All-EOAC, and DIV NE All-Northeast Inland District standout player went 18-6 with a 1.677 ERA and 180 strikeouts with the Devils.  He signed with the Zips last March to help revive the Zips program.

Bell remarked about the big adjustment he has been forced to make in moving up to the college ranks, ”Definitely not leaving the ball over the plate.  In high school, you can get away with it.  Guys will swing under it, or take it, but collegiate hitters, they’re looking for that pitch.  They have a real approach.” 

Akron had shut down the baseball program following the 2015 season due to financial reasons.  But the program was reinstated last year with former Cincinnati Reds infielder Chris Sabo being hired as the head coach.  This was the first season back for the Zips, and in the early season, they went just 1-12 but showed a lot of progress with four of those losses by just one run.

“We definitely bonded a lot as a team,” Bell said.  “We are a close team, we’re close-knit.  A lot of the junior-college players just bonded naturally.  Just the life-style of a junior college player.  But they didn’t outcast any of the freshmen.  They accepted us and told us stories of their life in JUCO ball.  We played a lot of ping-pong in the locker room.  We bonded over ping-pong.”

“He has a lot of knowledge,” he commented on playing for Sabo.  “He is down to earth with us.  He wasn’t like I’m a pro-baseball player and this is college baseball so you guys aren’t worth my time.  He’s a gritty coach too.  Two outs in the top of the ninth and we were down by five and a guy stole second without a steal sign.  He pulled him.”

Bell made five appearances for the Zips, starting one game against the Marshal Thundering Herd on March 8th.  He would suffer the loss in that contest, giving him a 0-1 record on the year, pitching 8 innings with 10 strikeouts before the season was stopped.

“It was awesome,” Bell recalled his lone start on the year.  “It was either going to be me or another freshman and after we won the first game of the double-header he (Coach Sabo) looked at me and said ‘you got the start’.  I turned and said ‘let’s go’.”

The Zips had an auspicious beginning to the season when they dropped a double-header to Oakland on February 16th.  The two squads were scheduled to play two seven-inning games, however, the Grizzlies would end up winning the season opener 4-3 in 14 grueling frames.

Bell would see his first collegiate action in that contests when he entered the game in the 10 inning.  He would pitch two and two-thirds of an inning surrendering just one hit and striking out four batters.

“It was nice to get the jitters out in the first game of the year.  I will tell you though, I was very nervous,” Bell admitted.  “It was tough.  I was shaking a little bit and I have never shaken during any sports.  That was one of the few times I have.”

Bell’s first-year experience also allowed him to play at Pepperdine in sunny southern California.  The Waves program is a regular participant in the College Baseball Wolrd Series tournaments.

“It was beautiful, their stadium is perfect.  It’s on top of a hill, it’s not windy and it’s right in the middle of their campus.  But it was different in that I pitched against 22, 23-year-old seniors who have played college baseball for four years.  I was throwing to guys who are five years older than I am,” Bell remarked about the tough competition.

For now, Bell is working out at home and hoping to be able to participate this summer in the Texas League, “I’m supposed to report June 21st, so I’m just trying to ramp up for that.  I’m getting ready to step up on a mound in two weeks to get used to throwing off the mound again.”

“I’ve definitely grown with the mental aspect of the game,” He explained.  “Like picking up signs from the second baseman or shortstop.  Completely different aspects of the game that at a lower level you don’t realize how much that mattered.”

He also added, “I’ve worked on my diet a lot.  And definitely the weight room.  That is the biggest part that has changed my life is the weight room this year.  I’m a freshman, so I’m underdeveloped in the weight room and I’m with these 22-year-old men who are just putting up weights like it’s nobody’s business.  It challenges you because you see these guys and you want to be that guy.”

Bell admitted that it was disappointing that he did not get to face Malone College, who had strongly recruited him and he knows many of the players on the team.  Also, YSU was scheduled to play at Akron this week.  Bell had hoped to see several friends including Braeden O’Shaughnessy who he played summer ball with and became close friends.

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