Beverly/Lowell's greatest strength was its resiliency.
The Post 389/750 baseball team took it on the chin all summer long, but was still able to bounce back and punch a ticket to this week's 2009 Ohio American Legion State Tournament in Athens.
Never mind that it went two and out in the double-elimination tourney with losses to Sandusky Post 83 and Portsmouth Post 23. Never mind, too, that it finished the season with a sub .500 record of 17-20.
This was a good a ballclub that took on all comers.
"This has been one of them years," said Beverly/Lowell skipper Todd Engle after his team dropped a 6-5 decision to Portsmouth in a state tournament elimination game at Athens High Tuesday. "I've learned as well as the kids.
"It's been a tough year. Our record was under .500 but we know what kind of competition we played. That competition helped us get to the state tournament."
Some of that competition included American Legion baseball teams, like Marietta/Belpre Post 64/495, St. Clairsville Post 159, Cambridge Post 84 and Zanesville Post 29, in the District 11 tournament in Zanesville.
Down but not out, Post 389/750 had to battle its way out of the losers bracket and beat favored St. Clairsville twice in comebacks to win it and advance to state.
If Post 389/750 had not played the "bear of a schedule" that it did before District 11 play, it might not have made it to the dance in Athens.
"If we're going hunting, let's go hunting grizzly," Engle said, "and that's kind of the way our schedule was set up this year. We're not ducking people. I think it makes you tougher."
Tougher and competitive down to the very last out at state.
After getting drilled by defending Ohio American Legion champion Sandusky Post 83, 11-0, in Monday's opener at state, Beverly/Lowell was hoping to bounce back against Portsmouth and extend its season. This was a winnable game for Beverly/Lowell, but it was not to be as it bowed out with a 6-5 loss. Stranding 15 baserunners, including the potential tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, hurt.
"When you're leaving that many runners in scoring position, it puts so much pressure on you defensively," Engle said.
Oh, well, the season's over with now. Can't dwell on it, only learn from it. Got to look to the future, and Engle is.
"I'm looking forward to big things next year," the Post 389/750 manager said. "I like the remaining kids that I have coming back. I like the nucleus I'm working with. I hope to be back here at state. Anything can happen."
"As long as I don't get an internship for my major (petroleum engineering), I should be back next year," said Brockmeier, who will be attending and playing baseball at Marietta College this upcoming year.
Stevens, incidentally, is planning to play baseball at Muskingum College, an Ohio Athletic Conference rival of the Pioneers.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Stevens, smiling. "I'll be facing Brockmeier."
Now, that'll certainly be an interesting matchup at Don Schaly Stadium.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org