BevLow players feel good about chances at state

BEVERLY – After missing out last summer, Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 is back in the American Legion state baseball tournament.

Following a district tournament that saw B/L absolutely blow away the competition at Don Schaly Stadium, Post 389/750 goes into state as hot as anyone. Its first game will be against Pickerington Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Beavers Field in Lancaster, and the players feel good about their chances of taking the state crown.

“With our team, with our caliber of players, I expect us to win state,” said shortstop Jake Ullman.

“We’re playing real hot right now. We’re probably gonna be the team to beat in the state tournament.”

Beverly/Lowell (26-13) has won 18 out of its last 20 games since a trip to Troy in mid-June. In baseball, success is all about timing. Third baseman Ethan Estes found that out in the spring of 2013 when the Warren Warriors made a run into the regional tourney.

“Baseball is all about getting hot at the right time,” Estes said. “My high school season last year, we had a pretty shaky regular season, about 8-10 or something like that. Then we went and won five or six in a row in the tournament. It’s all about getting hot at the right time.”

During Beverly/Lowell’s hot streak, a combination of good pitching, timely hitting and nearly flawless fielding has been the recipe for success.

In the district tournament, the Todd Engle-coached squad outscored its opponents 25-4 and committed just one error in three games. The club is hoping to pick up right where it left off after a 10-day layoff between district and state.

“I do feel like we can win state because our defense is so strong,” said center fielder Lance Schafer. “We just have to hit the ball.

“We will be the hottest team there.”

Ullman, Estes and Schafer make up the top of Beverly/Lowell’s lineup. The trio helped set the tone for the club last week, combining for 15 hits in 39 at-bats at the district tourney.

Ullman and Estes, along with teammates Ben Barnas and Gunnar Smith, were with the team two years ago during its last state appearance. They have an idea of what to expect and what it will take to have some success.

“We know it’s just another game,” Ullman said. “If we just go out and play baseball like we have all year, we’ll do fine.”

The 2012 team had a monster regular season, including a 28-game winning streak, but went two-and-out at state, possibly having plateaued too early. Beverly/Lowell is hoping for a different result this time around.

“I think it’s good where we’re at right now,” Estes said. “We’re finally starting to peak, so I think that’s good for us.”