B/L still alive in tourney action

CAMBRIDGE – Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 head coach Todd Engle threw everything but the kitchen sink at Zanesville Post 29 Friday night, and it worked.

Engle used four different pitchers, including one pitcher twice, as Beverly/Lowell topped Zanesville 11-6 in a district elimination game at Don Coss Field in Cambridge.

Post 389/750 starting pitcher Dustin Duffy pitched a clean first inning but could not get an out in the second. Duffy gave way to left-hander Justin Hill, who threw 5.2 strong innings of relief to pick up the mound victory.

Justin Greer, who started the game at first base, switched positions with Hill (4-1) in the seventh and recorded two outs before switching places with Hill again in the eighth. Hill was unable to record an out his second time on the hill and was pulled in favor of Thursday’s starter Ben Barnas. Barnas, after throwing six innings the previous night, recorded a strikeout and a groundout to escape a bases loaded, one out jam and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to slam the door and secure the victory for Beverly/Lowell.

“I just went out there with a clear mind,” said Barnas of entering the game with bases juiced. “To me, there was no runners on base. I was just out there to get those second and third outs and get our good lineup back up to the plate and get a couple more runs.”

With the season on the line, Beverly/Lowell found itself in a 2-0 hole going into the bottom of the third. No. 8 hitter Phillip Hoffman led off the third with a bloop single to center and would later advance to second on a groundout by Austin Campbell. After an Ethan Estes walk, Jake Ullman stepped into the box and poked a Jordan Hunkins offering down the left field line. Zanesville’s left fielder misplayed the ball which allowed Hoffman and Estes to score and Ullman to get all the way to third. Ullman would then score on Lance Schafer’s double to left-center to put B/L up 3-2.

“When I go to the plate, my mental approach is to get to second base,” said Ullman, who produced the game-winning double against St. Clairsville Thursday night. “My teammates do a great job of getting into scoring position for me to get that opportunity.”

The lead was short-lived as Zanesville quickly responded with a three-spot of its own in the top of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.

Once again, though, the resilient Beverly/Lowell squad clawed its way back. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Campbell roped a ball down the right field line to clear the bases. When Campbell tried to stretch it into a triple, a throwing error by the Zanesville cutoff man allowed Campbell to come home for the fourth run of the inning and give Post 389/750 a 7-5 lead.

“Down by two, we had to scratch and get something that inning,” Campbell said. “I was just gonna do my job and get on base any way I could. I was ahead 2-1 or 3-1 (in the count) and just waiting for an inside pitch, something middle-in that I could drive and he gave it to me.”

That sequence seemed to shift the momentum of the game in B/L’s favor. Gunnar Smith’s RBI single later in the fourth made it 8-5 and it became 9-5 in the fifth when Terrance Mayle scored all the way from second on a Devin Leister grounder to second, courtesy of a Zanesville error.

Zanesville’s Chris Sparks picked up an RBI double in the top of the seventh to cut it to 9-6, but Beverly/Lowell manufactured two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to make it 11-6 and set the stage for Barnas, who pitched a perfect ninth to end the game.

Ullman recorded three hits while Schafer and Estes each had two for Beverly/Lowell. Caden Wortman and Will Weir each had two hits to lead Zanesville.

Hunkins pitched four innings and took the loss for Zanesville. He struck out four and walked three.

Beverly/Lowell will go for its fifth district championship in as many years today when it takes on Cambridge at 1 p.m. It will have to beat Cambridge, who sits atop the winner’s bracket, twice to win the district. Cambridge defeated Beverly/Lowell 16-8 in the opening round of the tournament on Wednesday.

“I don’t know how we made the journey to get to where we’re at,” Engle said.

“We aren’t afraid to play anybody with the schedule we’ve played. We’ll come ready to go (today).”