Logan Tabeling

Wright State pitcher Logan Tabeling, a 2020 Tuscola graduate, throws during a Raiders game earlier this year. Tabeling struggled in his first collegiate appearance — against College World Series finalist Vanderbilt — but rallied to allow just two runs and eight hits over his final eight appearances.

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QUINCY — Two consistent elements of Logan Tabeling’s time with Tuscola baseball were success and Tabeling serving as a starting pitcher.

As a sophomore, the right-hander helped the Warriors to third place in the Class 2A postseason. He tossed 7 2/3 innings of five-hit ball during a state-semifinal thriller against Spring Valley Hall, though he was saddled with the tough-luck loss.

Tabeling followed that by earning News-Gazette All-Area baseball Player of the Year status as a junior, posting a 1.27 earned run average and 126 strikeouts across more than 60 innings.

The COVID-19 pandemic ultimately wiped out his senior season, but Tabeling had a college career to look forward to.

And that high school success has carried over in Tabeling’s transition to the Wright State baseball team.

Being a starting pitcher, however, has not. Not yet, anyway.

“At first, it was very difficult, because I’m used to having longer days of recovery and knowing exactly when I’m going to throw,” said Tabeling, who currently is playing summer ball — once again as a starting pitcher — with the Prospect League’s Quincy Gems.

“Coming out of the bullpen, it was a lot different,” Tabeling continued. “But the more I experienced it, the better I got.”

Tabeling served in middle relief for coach Alex Sogard’s Raiders, who posted a 35-13 record and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

Wright State is a standout mid-major program of recent seasons. It has competed in five of the last six NCAA tournaments — matching up with Illinois in a 2015 regional game — and churned out 15 MLB draft selections between 2015 and 2019.

“That’s what’s kind of crazy about Wright State: Nobody knows who Wright State is,” Tabeling said, “and then when you find out who they are and what they’ve done in the past ... you’re going in like, ‘Holy cow, these guys are animals.’”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, Tabeling found another reason to feel fortunate about his future with the Raiders.

Unlike some other college programs, Wright State wasn’t returning an overwhelming number of super-seniors for 2021. This gave Tabeling a legitimate shot at earning playing time as a freshman.

“A lot of these other schools had 10 or 12 guys coming back. We had a total of two pitchers and then two or three position players coming back,” Tabeling said. “We’re not bringing in 50 guys. It’s more of a family aspect. We’re not tying to overrecruit. ... That was honestly the reason I committed there: They were so true to the players.”

Tabeling is close with fellow right-handers Justin Hornschemeier and Jake Shirk, two other members of Tabeling’s class. But he also enjoyed getting to work alongside returnees like right-hander Bradley Brehmer and infielder Tyler Black, who both could be selected in the upcoming 2021 MLB Draft. Black is projected by some outlets as a potential second-round choice.

“He’s probably the hardest worker I’ve seen in my life,” Tabeling said of Black. “They put me in a perspective I’ve never seen, and I just went under their wing, and I got a lot better from it.”

Tabeling’s time as a Raider didn’t start on the best of notes, though, from a competitive perspective.

He made his college debut in Wright State’s season-opening game on Feb. 22 against Vanderbilt, then the defending College World Series champion. Tabeling was touched up for six runs in just two-thirds of an inning versus this season’s eventual national runners-up.

“That first outing against Vanderbilt was a lot of adversity,” Tabeling said. “Just get it out of the way and move forward from that tough experience.

“I could just blow it by everybody (in high school), and I was in control the entire game. But whenever I went to play at Vanderbilt, they’re in the College World Series, so it’s obviously a different experience.”

Tabeling saw infrequent usage across the rest of the season, but he made the most of those opportunities. Tabeling allowed single runs in appearances against Youngstown State and Northern Kentucky but also turned in six scoreless efforts, including three lasting one inning or more.

Tabeling’s favorite appearance was his last of the season, when he struck out two of the five batters he faced in an NCAA regional loss to Duke.

“That was one of the coolest experiences in my life, being able to throw in the regional,” Tabeling said. “Living in the moment of this excellence and being able to experience all the things we accomplished throughout the year (was great).”

Tabeling now is gaining repetitions in the wood-bat Prospect League while living with a host family in Quincy. Heading into Friday’s action, Tabeling boasted a 3.24 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, striking out 24 batters against 13 hits and eight walks.

“It’s been a great experience,” Tabeling said. “One of the best summers of my life.”

Tabeling plans to battle for a starting spot in Year 2 with Wright State, hoping to be either a midweek or Sunday option. Though he’s aware the Raiders may have other plans.

“They want me to be the closer. I think I’d rather be a closer than a middle-inning relief guy,” Tabeling said. “When you’re a closer, you know you’ve got to be ready in the bottom of the ninth or top of the ninth, and you know you’re going to throw. I would enjoy that more because I know when I need to get ready.”

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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