Beverly/Lowell on to the district finals
CAMBRIDGE — With a stressed pitching staff after playing three games in three days, Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 was in need of some help from their offense Monday as they attempted to dig themselves out of the losers’ bracket in the Division 11 Region 8 American Legion Baseball Tournament at Don Coss Field in Cambridge.
The “Boys of Summer” got all the offense they needed and then some as they pounded out 31 base hits and scored 33 runs in lopsided wins over Marietta Post 64 (16-2) and host Cambridge Post 84 (17-10) to punch their ticket to the championship games for the second consecutive season.
BevLow scored six times in the third and nine more times in the fourth in the opener to defeat Marietta for the fourth consecutive time this season and then backed that up by plating seven runs in both the third and fifth innings of the nightcap to oust Cambridge as well.
“Those were two good wins right there… We hit the ball well up and down the board,” said veteran Beverly/Lowell head coach Todd Engle, whose team did all of their damage in just nine times to bat. “We had a little rough spell there early in the tournament but we’ve been on quite a roll.”
In the opener lead-off batter Tate Engle collected three hits including a pair of doubles and knocked in three runs while Drew Huffman, Logan Isner, Clayton Cook and Konnor Roberts collected a pair of hits apiece.
Isner’s two-run home run over the fence in left centerfield capped the nine-run fourth inning that saw Post 389/750 send 13 hitters to the plate.
Marietta got a pair of basehits by Danny Hiser in the opener and finished their season with an 18-11 record.
BevLow had dropped a game they had a big lead in against Cambridge in one of their first games of the season and were bound and determined not to let that happen again in the tourney.
Four consecutive first inning singles started with a two-out bunt single by Tyler Bradford and was capped off with an RBI single by Cook gave Post 389/750 a 1-0 lead.
They then added two more in the second on a run-scoring single by Huffman and an infield groundout by Bradford.
Just as they did in the opener, Beverly/Lowell broke things wide open in the third inning as they sent 11 batters to the plate to score seven times and open up a 10-0 lead.
With one out Neal singled, Nate Brothers walked and Luke Nelson laid down a perfect bunt single to collect the second of his three hits in the game and load the bases.
Cambridge head coach Ron Antill replaced starting pitcher Lane Howell on the mound with Logan McVicker and he promptly hit Engle with a pitch and then walked Huffman to force in a pair of runs.
Antill made yet another pitching change as he summoned Clark Jennings in from right field to pitch and Bradford broke things wide open by crushing a grand slam home run well over the fence in right field to make it a 9-0 ballgame.
Isner followed with his second home run of the day over the 350 sign in left center field and the rout was on.
“After what happened here early in the season we never really felt like any lead was safe,” said Coach Engle. “We couldn’t afford to let off the gas pedal and those two home runs were big.”
Lost in the surplus of offense was a pair of outstanding pitching performances by a pair of Warren Warriors in Brett Gandee in the opener and Kurt Taylor in the second game.
Gandee allowed just three hits and an earned run in five innings to earn the win in the opener while Taylor scattered eight basehits and threw just 61 pitches to notch the victory in the night cap.
“Those two come from a great program and I am blessed to have kids come in that already know the game and know situations,” said Engle, whose team improved to 31-8 on the season. “I thought they pitched to contact and did just what we needed them to do.”
The road forward won’t be an easy one for Beverly/Lowell as they will be forced to beat a very good St. Clairsville team not only once but twice the next two nights to capture their second consecutive District title.
Beverly/Lowell figures to have Cam Hesson, who sports a perfect 9-0 record on the mound tonight at 6 p.m.