The Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 Legion baseball team has had its fair share of success this season, and it all starts with third baseman Tyler Proctor.
"When we combined with the Marietta/Belpre team, that was a big plus," Proctor said. "We really expected to do well. We thought there might be some chemistry problems, but we really took off from the start."
The Warren graduate has helped lead the team to a 36-4 overall record including 27 wins in a row. Head coach Todd Engle's squad won the District 11 championship and is heading to Lancaster for the state tournament on Monday.
MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times
Beverly/Lowell slugger Tyler Proctor has slugged a team-high nine home runs this summer.
"He's had a phenomenal year," said Engle after the team won the Athens Baseball Tournament earlier this season. "He's been very important to the success of this ball club. I can't say enough about him."
Proctor is happy with the success so far, but has his eyes on the ultimate prize.
"We've got a big target on our backs," Proctor said. "We really wanna win state. We've worked so hard this season. For the community, it's been an unbelievable run, but we've still got so much we want to do."
Proctor, in his fifth year playing legion baseball, had a monster season last year with 18 home runs. This year the power numbers are down a little, which is due to the toning down of the aluminum bats this season.
"It's changed completely," Proctor said of his approach at the plate. "With the change in bats, you can't expect to hit home runs. There were certain situations last year where I would be thinking 'home run,' but this year you have to be thinking 'doubles and singles.' In the first inning if there's two runners on, instead of going for the three run homer, I might lay down a bunt and play small ball."
Even with the slight decline in power, Proctor has not missed a beat when it comes to getting runs in.
"I've been a good run producer," Proctor said. "In the three hole, that's what Todd (Engle) expects of me. With the protection behind me, I've been getting pitched to often. I think I'm doing my job."
You could say that.
Proctor has a .514 batting average and a ridiculous 1.533 OPS (On-base percentage plus slugging percentage), with nine homers and 73 RBI in 40 games this season.
Proctor gives credit to the guys behind him for some of his success.
"It's been great," Proctor said. "Having Landon (Kern) and Clay (Ullman) behind me has really helped. People don't wanna walk me to face them. It's been much more fun, because I don't expect to get pitched around."
Proctor also plays baseball for the NCAA Division II Ohio Valley University Fighting Scots in the spring, which has benefited him this summer.
"Playing collegiately is huge," Proctor said. "You see really good pitching in college. It's a step up from legion. It has helped me become a better hitter. You see one, maybe two good pitches an at bat, and you can't miss them. It's definitely helped me."
Pitching, defense, and clutch hitting have been Beverly/Lowell's keys to success this season, but the mindset of the players will also be crucial at state.
"We have to be confident," Proctor said. "We can't be nervous. There's going to be some tough teams there, but we know we can play with anybody. We've gotta hit, and hopefully our pitching will keep up what they've been doing. We've got to get batters on, get 'em over and get 'em in."
If Proctor continues to perform at the level he has all year, Beverly/Lowell's chances at winning state look great.