BevLow state-bound after routing Cambridge 11-2

The strategy was rather simple.

Get a few runs on the scoreboard early on and then hand things over to your pitching and defense.

That strategy was executed to absolute perfection as Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 swept its way to a Region 8 district championship capped by Saturday afternoon’s 11-2 victory over Cambridge Post 84.

The BevLow offense pounded out 31 basehits and scored 25 runs in the three games, while the arms allowed just four runs to cross the plate and the defense was equally impressive as it committed one error.

“We field the ball well enough that if we get out in front of you and we make you chase us, we are awful tough to beat,” said Beverly/Lowell head coach Todd Engle. “That has been our goal the entire tournament and we were fortunate enough to do that.”

Cambridge came into Saturday’s contest needing to beat B/L twice after eliminating St. Clairsville on Friday night.

Just as it had in the first two games of the tournament in wins over St. Clairsville and Cambridge, Post 389/750 drew first blood.

Shortstop Jake Ullman led off the game by legging out an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ethan Estes.

One out later, Derek Layton came through with a two-out, run-scoring double to the opposite field to score Ullman with the first run of the game.

Cambridge committed seven errors in the final including a leadoff error on a groundball off of the bat of center fielder and Warren graduate Lance Schafer to open the third inning.

One out later, Gunnar Smith was hit by a pitch and both baserunners scored when Blake Kidder drove a shot that bounced on one hop off the left-center field fence for a two-run double.

Bryce Gandee plated Kidder with the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to extend the B/L lead to 4-0.

After chasing Cambridge starting pitcher Chase Brown in the third inning, Post 389/750 went right back to work in the top of the fourth off of relief pitcher Parker Evans.

Estes, Schafer, and Layton opened the inning with consecutive basehits and each one also picked up a stolen base as B/L scored twice more to claim a 6-0 lead.

Estes doubled in Gandee with the seventh run of the game in the top of the fifth giving young starting pitcher Phillip Hoffman plenty of breathing room on the mound.

Cambridge got on the board in the last of the fifth off of Hoffman when Evans collected the first of what would be a pair of RBI singles to cut the lead to 7-1.

Despite battling some control issues, Hoffman was solid in his five innings of work as the big right-hander allowed just five basehits while walking four and fanning one.

Layton came on in relief of Hoffman to begin the sixth inning and allowed just one run and two hits the rest of the way.

Beverly/Lowell finished strong in the top of the ninth when it batted around, collecting five hits and scoring four more times.

Kidder, Austin Hefter, and Devin Leister opened the inning with consecutive singles before Gandee drilled a double into left field and Estes capped the inning with his third hit of the game.

Layton retired Post 84 in order in the last of the ninth to clinch the victory and a trip to State Tournament in Lancaster for the seventh time in Engle’s tenure as head coach.

Engle’s team appears to be peaking at the right time as it carries a whole lot of momentum into state after winning 18 of its last 19 games.

“Its been a long year, but you have seen this team just grow and grow and grow,” said Engle, noting that all but three of the kids on this year’s roster will be eligible to play in 2015.

“This has just been a wonderful group to work with.”

Hoffman joined Ben Barnas and Kyler Dennis by gaining the victory in the finale, while Layton was credited with the save.

Estes and Layton paced the BevLow offense with three hits while Ullman, Kidder, and Leister accounted for a pair of hits apiece.

Brown was saddled with the loss for Cambridge, whose season comes to a close with a 19-21 record while the Beverly/Lowell record which once stood at 8-11 improved to 26-12 heading to Lancaster in a couple of weeks.

“We definitely have some momentum but we’ve got to get some work done this week,” said Engle, “We are playing well and our kids have stepped into their roles. It never gets old because you have a different group of kids every year.”

Beverly/Lowell will open state tournament play against the winner of Region 6 on July 30.