Extra innings: Beverly/Lowell eliminates St. Clairsville 8-6 in 10
CAMBRIDGE – It won’t go down as the prettiest win of the season for Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750, but it just might be the biggest.
Facing elimination from the district tournament Thursday at Don Coss Field in Cambridge, Beverly/Lowell was able to steal one from St. Clairsville Post 159, winning 8-6 in 10 innings.
Left-hander Evan Sawyer, who labored through five innings against Cambridge just a day earlier, took the mound in relief in the eighth inning. After retiring the final batter in the eighth and the first two in the ninth, Sawyer’s first offering to right-handed hitting Hunter Westlake was smashed deep to left and hit off of the top half of the fence for a double.
Just a foot or two higher and the game would have been over.
Sawyer buckled down, however, and got out of the inning unscathed before Jake Ullman delivered a game-winning two-run double to left field in the top of the tenth to put Post 389/750 up 8-6.
Beverly/Lowell (21-18) will now play Zanesville today at 6 p.m. at Don Coss Field in another elimination game.
“This game is exactly the way our year’s been,” said Beverly/Lowell skipper Todd Engle. “We’ve won ugly against some really good teams this year, but we’ve also lost that way like we did (Wednesday) night.
“This team though, until their out of it, they won’t quit battling. The kids decided tonight they wanted to play some more baseball.”
Engle’s squad overcame five more errors, after committing seven Wednesday, by collecting clutch hits when it needed them.
With two on and nobody out in the second inning, Justin Greer ripped a two-bagger down the left field line to plate both runners and give B/L a 2-0 advantage.
Down 6-5 in the eighth inning with Devin Leister on second and two outs, Austin Campbell stepped up to the plate. The left-handed hitting Campbell shot a line drive the other way to left field to bring Leister in and tie the game up.
Campbell later set the stage for Ullman in the tenth by drawing a one-out walk and stealing second base. After Ethan Estes drew a base on balls, Ullman cashed with the game-winner, keeping B/L’s season alive.
“Jake all year long has been kind of struggling,” Engle said. “We’ve been trying to make adjustments, and he comes up with a huge hit for us.”
Ben Barnas started on the mound for B/L went six innings, striking out six and walking three. Barnas’ only troublesome innings were the second and the sixth, in which several defensive miscues led to five St. Clairsville runs.
Lefty Justin Hill relieved Barnas with no outs in the seventh and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings before giving way to Sawyer.
Sawyer (5-4) threw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out two and walking one. Engle said Sawyer approached him around the sixth inning and said he could go if needed.
“Evan, he’s my most experienced kid,” Engle said.
“I could stand here and talk about him all day. I just think the world of him. He’s a great kid. He’s the kind of player you want on your ball club.”
St. Clairsville went with Logan Nippert on the hill. Nippert went seven innings, punching out seven and walking four. St. Clairsville’s bullpen was wild, as Bailey McGrath and Cody Caldwell combined for three innings pitched and eight walks. Caldwell surrendered Ullman’s double and was charged with the loss.
Beverly/Lowell had eight hits in the game. Lance Schafer had the only multi-hit game, going 2-6 with two runs scored. Campbell, Estes, Ullman, Greer, Leister and Gunnar Smith all had a hit apiece. McGrath was 3-6 with a triple and Westlake was 3-4 with a pair of doubles for St. Clairsville, which pounded out 11 hits.
Dustin Duffy will likely get the starting nod on the mound today for Beverly/Lowell. Duffy pitched an inning of relief against Cambridge Wednesday, surrendering two runs.