Nothing gets past the left side of Beverly/Lowell’s infield

After Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 routed Cambridge Post 84, 11-2, in an American Legion baseball district final at Don Schaly Stadium Saturday, the winners strolled to the outfield to pose for pictures.

If you looked up at the scoreboard in left center field, the linescores spoke volumes. BevLow had zero errors, while Ron Antill-coached Cambridge, the defending district champion, had seven.

Yep, that’s right – seven. Cambridge had as many miscues as basehits.

If B/L skipper Todd Engle hadn’t known better, he might have thought it was Christmas with so many Post 84 gifts. All Post 389/750 needed for the occasion was pitching ace Ben Barnas in a Santa Claus hat, humming “Joy to the World” to the visitors from Guernsey County.

Seven errors will get you beat almost always.

Making no miscues, at least, you’ve got a shot, especially in a championship game.

“We felt that we were the best defensive team here,” Engle said, “and we’re playing on an immaculate surface so there’s going to be no excuse for not fielding the baseball.”

There’s no question that BevLow can scoop it up and throw ’em out. Its pitchers don’t have to strike out everybody, not when you have a third baseman and shortstop like Ethan Estes and Jake Ullman, respectively.

“Yes, I love that side of my infield,” said Engle, smiling. “My pitchers have been going out there and competing. And they realize that if they throw strikes, this is pretty fun to pitch for this team because.we’re going to field it. We’re all buying into that philosophy. We don’t have anybody that’s going to stand up there and strike anybody out. That’s the thing with a young team. We throw the ball confidently to spots, and we try to get a lot of groundballs to our infield.”

And, get this, Estes and Ullman were not at 100 percent physically. So, in a way, Beverly/Lowell beat Cambridge with one arm tied behind itself.

“The thing that people don’t realize about Ethan is that he’s been playing with a broken thumb,” Engle said, “and we did not know if we was going to be able to go or not. As a matter of fact, we DH’d him a few games because he said he could swing the bat but he couldn’t squeeze the glove. And Jake, all weekend long, his back’s been out of whack, so we’ve been stretching him between innings.”

Offensively, both also swung the bat against Post 84 with Estes getting three hits and Ullman two.

“Thing is, I know that we were one little injury away from having to break that (duo) up, too,” Engle said. “So I was holding my breath the whole tournament for both of them.”

Since baseball is a team game, Estes and Ullman weren’t the only BevLow players making plays in the field vs. Cambridge. At second, there was Joel Estes and Devin Leister, and at first, Austin Hefter. In the outfield, from left to right, there were Blake Kidder, Lance Schafer, and Bryce Gandee, who all caught flyballs. And, behind the plate, Gunnar Smith was rock solid.

“We field it well enough that if we get out in front of you and make you chase us then…that’s been our goal the whole tournament and we’ve been fortunate enough to do that,” Engle said.

With Saturday’s district triumph, Engle’s seventh since he’s been at the helm, Beverly/Lowell will advance to the state tournament in Lancaster and open up play on July 30.

BevLow has a little layoff until then, but that’s good because it’ll help Estes, Ullman and others heal and get stronger.

“It never gets old playing at state,” Engle said.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com