Back in Lancaster: Beverly/Lowell ready for state legion baseball tournament

Times file photo Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 plays Sandusky Post 83 in an American Legion baseball state tournament game at 1 p.m. today at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

BEVERLY — After coming up one win shy of capturing their second state American Legion baseball title last season, Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 appears primed to make another run as they open play this afternoon at 1 p.m. against Sandusky Post 83 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

Last year Beverly/Lowell found itself in the driver seat as they advanced to the finals unscathed in the eight team tournament before falling twice in consecutive days to eventual champion Napoleon Post 300.

In winning four consecutive times last week at Don Coss Field Cambridge to rally out of the loser’s bracket to claim the District 11 tournament, Beverly/Lowell (33-8) displayed a dangerous balance of solid pitching, excellent defense and an offense that at times looked unstoppable.

In those four games that netted wins over Marietta and Cambridge and a pair over St. Clairsville, the “Boys of Summer” scored 57 runs and pounded out 51 base hits including six that left the park.

Logan Isner paced the offensive onslaught by cracking three home runs in those four games while former Fort Frye teammate Tyler Bradford homered twice and catcher Clayton Cook once.

The always fundamentally sound Bev/Low defense committed just four errors in the four games combined and turned a slick six double plays.

Pitching-wise, head coach Todd Engle has several solid options to turn to including left-handers Drew Huffman, Tanner Neal and Luke Nelson as well as right-hander Kam Hesson, who went a perfect 9-0 on the season.

Bradford, an All-Ohio pitcher at Fort Frye who will be heading to Potomac State in the fall, has been limited on the bump due to some arm soreness, but could provide a big boost if he is able to give Post 389/750 some innings at state.

Look for Beverly/Lowell to go with Isner at first base, Fort Frye teammates Nate Brothers and Tate Engle at second base and shortstop respectively and Konnor Roberts at third.

Cook has been a great addition to the lineup this season as the Morgan Raider has hit over .500 on the season while providing outstanding defense behind the plate.

Neal, Nelson, Huffman and Bradford will likely get the nod in the outfield with one of them assuming the role of designated hitter against Sandusky.

Although Sandusky’s record (15-11-1) may not look all that impressive, Post 83 has won 13 of their last 15 games after getting off to a slow start.

This season has been very similar for the Jason Samstag-coached Sandusky squad as last season when they won 14 of their final 19 games en route to a third-place finish in the state tournament.

Beverly/Lowell may well have to face James Fisher on the mound in the opener as the Ohio Northern pitcher tossed a three-hitter while fanning seven in Sandusky’s 4-1 win over Wayne County that sealed their berth in the state tournament.

The tournament will kick off with Van Wert Post 178 (20-7) squaring off against Lancaster Post 11 (20-12) at 10 a.m.

Lancaster will get to play on their home turf for the second consecutive year in the tourney, while Van Wert will be making their first appearance in 10 years.

Pemberville Post 183 (34-14) and Jefferson County Post 33 (22-18) are scheduled to do battle at 4 p.m. with Utica Post 92 (11-7) and Circleville Post 134 playing the final game of the opening day at 7 p.m.

Circleville will be making its second consecutive appearance and their sixth in the past eight years.

A Beverly/Lowell victory would put them in the winner’s bracket for a 7 p.m. game tomorrow while a loss would result in a 1 p.m. elimination game.