Graig Mantle

Logan Schafer lives for baseball. When he’s not out on the field playing a game or practicing, he is thinking about it or watching it.

The Los Gatos native grew up as the middle child with two brothers who also share his passion for America’s pasttime.

Now a junior center fielder for Cal Poly, Schafer leads the Mustangs in batting average (.426) and hits (20) while having played in all 11 of their games.

Schafer, 21, an All-Big West Conference Second Team selection a year ago after hitting .335 with 34 RBI, learned the sport by playing with his brothers and friends.

After he was old enough, Schafer’s dad got him into Little League, and his friends formed a tight-knit unit that stayed that way well into high school.

“My dad taught us the basics, and my brothers and I practiced all the time,” Schafer says.

As time went on, Schafer, his brothers and their friends created a whiffleball stadium in the Schafers’ backyard.

“We would chalk the lines with flour and built the mound out of bricks,” Schafer says. “All our friends would come over because it was the house to go to.”

Schafer attended Cuesta College after high school and played his freshman season there.

Cal Poly’s head coach, Larry Lee, who was the head coach at Cuesta from 1987 to 2002, saw Schafer’s potential.

“Logan is the best center fielder I’ve seen in my 25 years of coaching,” Lee says. “He is interesting as a person and player – he anticipates extremely well. Offensively he’s just developed into a very good hitter. He will be the No. 3 hitter and he’s possibly (our) best player.”

Not just an effective hitter, though, Schafer continues to work on his all-around game.

“I am in the middle of the field, and I see everything that happens on the bases,” Schafer says. “My job is to direct the outfielders, and be ready for every pitch, for every pick-off move.”

In Little League, the left-handed Schafer played catcher and pitcher before finding his niche in high school as a center fielder.

“It’s more of an advantage to be left-handed, because not only is it harder for a right-handed pitcher to throw to a left-handed batter, but it’s easier in my position that I don’t have to swing my body around to throw to first base,” Schafer says. “It cuts time off.”

Schafer thinks the chemistry between this year’s Mustangs, who host UC Santa Barbara at 6 tonight, is stronger than ever.

“At this level of competition it’s more than just being on a team,” he says. “We aren’t just teammates – we are friends and everyone respects each other. We have poker night, and call each other constantly.”

Despite having been drafted twice already – in the 47th round by the Colorado Rockies a year ago and in the 31st by the Boston Red Sox in 2006 – Schafer is staying grounded in the present.

“My focus right now is school and my team,” he says. “I want to go out there and get better every day and play better than the last time. I want our team to get to the postseason, which would be the first time in Cal Poly history, and even the College World Series.”

Schafer’s confidence in the Mustangs’ chances is buoyed by his assuredness in their pitching staff.

“We have three Friday-night pitchers, and I’m just here to help the team win,” he says.

Win or lose, Schafer should have plenty of opportunities to continue his love.

“He is the total package when it comes to a baseball player,” Lee says. “He will definitely go pro.”

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