LHS Baseball – a winning brotherhood

From the Loganville Insider Magazine

Editor’s note: This is a story from the City of Loganville that appeared in the City’s Loganville Insider magazine in the Winter of 2024

Update: Since the publication of this story, the Loganville High School baseball team won yet another Georgia High School Association baseball Championship this spring. On May 21, 2024, the LHS Red Devil Baseball team won its third consecutive state championship and sixth in eight consecutive appearances.

LHS Red Devil 2024 GISA 2024 5A Baseball Champions – Photograph by Brett Fowler Photography

For years Maxie Price Chevrolet used the slogan “Where’s Loganville?” in an effort to get customers to come to the area. However, the answer to that question is not that Loganville is 30 miles east of Atlanta and 31 miles west of Athens and home to the largest Corvette dealer in the southeast, which Maxie Price was at the time. No, the correct answer is that Loganville is at the center of the high school baseball world.

LHS Red Devil 2024 GISA 2023 5A Baseball Champions – Photograph by Brett Fowler Photography

Loganville baseball players all try and get a hand on the GHSA Class AAAAA state championship trophy after sweeping McIntosh High School in the title series at CoolRay Field, home of the Gwinnett Stripers, in Lawrenceville on May 20, 2023.

For the past two, almost three, decades, the Loganville Baseball program has been the premier baseball program in the state of Georgia and is recognized through out the southeast. Since 2008 the Red Devils have won seven Georgia High School Association state championships, the most recent coming in May of 2023. They have also played for the championship 10times, finishing as state runners up in 2002, 2016 and 2021, and won their region 12 times.

But one of the more impressive stats the Loganville baseball program can boast is the number of kids it has helped send to the next level, both in the college and professional ranks. Since 1997, Loganville has sent 101 players on to the next level. Most have gone on to play collegiately, in turn getting some or even all of their college education paid for thanks to their athletic prowess on the diamond.

For those that have come through the Loganville baseball program, its akin to a fraternity. Much like a fraternity, there is a grueling selection process to earn your way onto the team, but for those that make it through, the reward of making it on the team often ends with a shiny ring to wear, but its much more than that. It’s a life long bond that all of those who came before can share with those currently wearing the uniform. It’s a baseball brotherhood.

Laying the foundation Jeff Segars arrived to Loganville in 1997. He was a young coach fresh out of Georgia College and State University where he played shortstop and pitched for the Bobcats. By 1999, he was tabbed as the next head coach of the Red Devils. His impact was felt quickly, over the next three years Segars laid the foundation of what was to come.

The Red Devils got their first real taste of success in 2001 when they made it to the Elite Eight, but it was the 2002 season that put Loganville on the map an announced to the state that the Red Devils were a force to be reckoned with. Led by future MLB All-Star Brandon Moss, Loganville made it all the way to the Class AAA state championship before falling to Gainesville in the title series.

But just five years later, Loganville was put on the map thanks to a walk offhome run by Blake McCullers that clinched the Class AAAA state title, the first for the Red Devils.

McCullers stood at the plate facing a 0-2 count, tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh in game two of the 2008 class AAAA state championship against Griffin when he turned on a high breaking ball and sends a solo shot 400 feet over the Bears’ centerfield wall to win if for the Red Devils.

“I just remember thinking that there’s no way that baseball went over the fence,” McCullers said. “The celebration that was waiting for me at home plate was perfect and something that I’m glad I have a picture of.”

On the 2008 team alone, four seniors went on to play college ball. McCullers began at JUCO powerhouse Georgia Perimeter before transferring to Shorter University, Pitcher Ben Marshall signed with Georgia State, pitcher Drew Payne went on to Kennesaw State, and Drew Smith inked with Atlanta Christian College.

But what sticks out the most to many on that team, was the way they played together and unselfishly.

“If you ask anybody that played on that team they will tell you we weren’t the most talented team,” McCullers said. “Everyone bought into the mindset that whatever’s best for the team is what I’m going to do. That’s what made us so good. No matter the situation or how big the game was, we knew we had each other’s back. They were and continue to be my brothers.”

The present-day Dynasty Today, Loganville has become one of the premier programs in the state. Winning seven state titles, five in the last seven years, will do that for a program.

Since 2016, Loganville has played for a state title every year except for 2020 when a little thing called COVID-19 decided to stop the world in its tracks. Loganville finished as state runners up in 2016 in a series that still a sore subject for many in the program, but bounced back to beat Wayne County in two games in 2017 to win the program’s third state title.

The Red Devils followed it up in 2018 by beating region foe and state powerhouse Buford in front of a packed-out Foley Field in Athens. The trifecta became complete in 2019 when Loganville crushed Ola at CoolRayField in Lawrenceville to with the programs’ fifth title overall.

Even through a coaching change, the results have remained the same.

Segars became athletic director in 2021just after the Red Devils lost to Starr’s Mill in the 2021 championship and stepped down from his post at head baseball coach in an effort to more effectively serve the other sports in the school. His replacement was long time assistant Bran Mills.

Mill was apart of a core staff of coaches, which also included coaches Brandon Anglin and Mike Ryan, that had been with Segars through all of Loganville’s state titles.

The wins have continued to come, with Loganville winning back-to-back state titles in Mills’ first two seasons in 2022 and 2023.

Building the brotherhood Despite Segars stepping down as head coach he’s remains on staff as an assistant, effectively switching roles with Mills.Having the core nucleus of coaches, who have become like brothers in their own right, has been key for fostering the type of atmosphere in which Loganville’s players thrive. Players understand that they have to put in the effort to get better while also coming together as one and creating the chemistry that is so crucial in team sports.

“Personally I feel like we have big shoe to fill,” senior Jaylen Jones, who’s committed to Wester Carolina, said. “Every year we go far into the playoffs and play for state titles, so I feel like we have something to prove every year.”

Having players go on to the college ranks is nothing new for Loganville and many of those players have gone on to be coaches at various levels. For Cody McCance, having played for Loganville and now being back as an assistant coach in the program is surreal.

“When I was playing here I never imagined I would be coach. Then to go play college ball and get that experience and learn from a lot of a lot of good coaches and play with a lot of good players helped teach me a lot about the game,” Said McCance, who played collegiately at the University of Georgia under former head coach Scott Strickland. “So it is cool to come back and pass on some of that knowledge to the next group of guys. A lot of what I learned on how to play the game was learned from my time as a Loganville baseball player.”

McCance played at Loganville from 2008-2011. During his time at Loganville the Red Devils 113-25-1 winning the 2008 state title, two final four appearances and a Sweet 16 appearance. The 2008 team’s record of 32-7 was the best record of any team until the 2018 team went 34-6 and won a state title exactly 10 years later. 

“It’s awesome to see the program become as successful as it has. We knew even when I was playing that we were always right there…it always felt like we were one or two games away from playing for a state title,” McCance said. “So to see these guys continually make it and keep that history going and being successful, as a former players its awesome to see. It speaks to the culture coach Segars and his staff have built and how coach Mills has kept it going. It’s a culture of competitiveness and success.’“It’s awesome to see the program become as successful as it has. We knew even when I was playing that we were always right there…it always felt like we were one or two games away from playing for a state title,” McCance said. “So to see these guys continually make it and keep that history going and being successful, as a former players its awesome to see. It speaks to the culture coach Segars and his staff have built and how coach Mills has kept it going. It’s a culture of competitiveness and success.”

That competitiveness isn’t just on the field. One of the key pieces to building a successful program and team bonding is the atmosphere in the locker room and there have been plenty of competitive, yet friendly, competitions in the locker room.

“There was a period of time where we were playing whiffle ball in the locker room,” Jones said. “We’d bat left-handed and just goof oof, but it was very fun.”

“We’d hear them getting into that from our side of the locker room,” McCance chirped. The locker room at Loganville’s new stadium, built in 2016, is much larger than the one at the old field located off Baker Carter Drive., but McCance recalls his teams setting up a disco ball in the old locker room.

“Our favorite thing to do was before games turn off all the lights and we had a disco ball. We’d crank up the music and get the disco ball going and have a little disco party before the game,” McCance said. “That was our thing. Instead of ping pong or foosball we had like raves in the locker room.”

Moving froward Jones, along with fellow seniors JP Myers, Tucker Segars, Nolan Keener, Layne Ayers, James Beaver, Landon Hollis, Kaden Freeman, Sam Scolamiero, Tyler Whitley and Angel Quexada, is the latest group of Loganville baseball players to leave their legacy. 

“The Locker room, the bus rides, everyone coming together and getting to know each other, that’s been the best part of playing here,” Jones said.

His teammate JP Myers echoed that sentiment.

“Those bus rides back after a win are always a great time to chill with the guys and cut up a little bit., Myers said. “It’s a great atmosphere.”

Both Jones and Myers will join the long list of former Loganville players that have gone on to the next level. A list that is over 100 long at this point. Jones has signed with Western Carolina while Myers has signed with Georgia Tech. Additionally, Beaver signed with Georgia College and State University, Tyler Whitley with Eastern University, Scolamiero with Southern Wesleyan University and Ayers with Piedmont University.

“Its going to be a lot more comparative. Everyone is going to be on that same top level,” Myers said. “Those guys were all the top guy at their high school and everyone is competing for nine spots on the field. But It’ll be good.”

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