Marietta High teammates Ben Barnas and Evan Sawyer became co-aces for the Tiger varsity squad this past spring.
This summer, they have stepped up their game on the mound for the Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 squad, a team heading to Lancaster for the state tournament on Monday.
"It's pretty nice," said Sawyer, the only southpaw on the staff. "We have a chance to do something really special."
Barnas thinks the team is still improving.
"We feel like we haven't played our best baseball yet," Barnas said. "If we play our best, we think there's nobody that can beat us. As long as we're confident, play hard, play the right way, make plays and pick each other up, we'll be fine."
Beverly/Lowell has posted a 36-4 record and is currently on a 27 game winning streak. Pitching has been the backbone of the team.
Sawyer has posted a 6-0 record with a 2.72 earned run average and four complete games. Barnas has an 8-2 record with a 4.04 ERA and also has four complete games. The two have combined to pitch 95.1 innings.
"Evan and I have played together since we were 5 or 6-years-old," Barnas said of the duo's relationship. "Freshman year we played on junior varsity together. He moved up to varsity as a sophomore and I joined him this year. We kind of formed a 1-2 punch."
Barnas credits pitching coach Steve Riley and catcher Landon Kern for his success and is ready to head to Lancaster.
"I'm looking forward to state," Barnas said. "We've been performing well. Coach Riley has helped me with mixing up speeds. I've also worked with Coach (Cody) Castle from Marietta College and he's really helped me develop as a pitcher. And then having Landon behind the plate has been a blessing. He's a machine. He's good at framing pitches at getting us calls."
Sawyer also credits Coach Riley and Kern for his success.
"I've had a lot of help," Sawyer said of his success. "The defense has been really good behind me. Obviously Landon (Kern) does a good job of calling games. Coach Steve Riley has been helping me out a lot with mechanics and keeping the ball down in the zone and letting the defense work."
Barnas, who has a low-80s fastball, curveball, and change up at his disposal, said the success of the rotation has resulted in some friendly competition.
"We all like to joke around with each other," Barnas said. "We call Kordell (Antill) the celebrity because he's undefeated. It's all for fun. We like to kind of talk each other up and pick each other up."
"It's a lot easier to pitch on this team because of the offense and defense," Barnas said. "On the mound, you feel like the guys are gonna put up 7-15 runs a game, which makes it easier for us."
While Antill and Fort Frye grad Zach Eddy have pitched the most innings for Post 389/750, the contributions of Barnas and Sawyer have been huge. Look for the duo to continue to have an impact at the state tournament next week in Lancaster.