Beverly/Lowell rallies past St. Clairsville, 8-6
CAMBRIDGE — It’s hard enough to rally once against an outstanding baseball team like St. Clairsville Post 159 but to rally twice is pretty much unheard of.
Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 scored four times in the fourth inning to erase a four run deficit and then scored four more times in the last of the sixth after Post 159 had taken a 6-4 lead en route to a thrilling 8-6 win to set up tonight’s District 11 championship game back at Don Coss Field.
St. Clairsville scored a single run in the first inning off of Bev/Low starting pitcher Kam Hesson, who came into the game sporting a perfect 9-0 record, and then appeared on the verge of a blowout win when they scored three more times in the top of the second.
Post 159 collected seven hits in the first two innings alone, including RBI knocks by Billy Johnson, Drake Dobson and Mason Ramsay to stake starting pitcher Austin Bassa to the four-run lead.
After scoring 33 runs and pounding out 31 base hits Monday to advance into the finals, the Post 389/750 bats were silenced by Bassa for the first three innings before roaring back to life in the fourth.
Logan Isner, who homered in both games on Monday, got things started by depositing a Bassa pitch over the left center field fence to get B/L on the board.
“We needed that. … Their starter was good,” said Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 head coach Todd Engle. “The way we hit the baseball yesterday, for him to come in here and shut us down for basically four innings — we needed for somebody to step up and hit him and Logan did.”
Isner’s third homer in as many games seemed to open the flood gates for Bev/Low as Clayton Cook and Konnor Roberts followed with base hits before left fielder Tanner Neal beat out a beautifully placed bunt down the third base line to load the bases with nobody out.
A fielding error on a ball hit by Nate Brothers allowed the second run of the inning to cross the plate and spelled the end of the evening for Bassa, who was replaced on the bump by Logan Elliott.
Elliott retired the next two hitters he faced but a fielder’s choice by Luke Nelson plated one run and a sacrifice fly to right field by Tate Engle tied the score at 4-4.
After getting hit hard in the first two innings, Hesson settled down nicely for B/L and kept St. Clairsville from scoring as the game remained tie heading to the last of the fifth inning.
Post 389/750 threatened to take the lead in the last of the fifth when Drew Huffman led off by reaching on a base on balls and Tyler Bradford singled to right field and alertly moved into scoring position as well when the St. Clairsville throw went from the outfield to third base.
Dom Wallace was brought in to pitch for Post 159 and the big hard throwing righthander put on quite a performance as he fanned Isner, Cook and Roberts to strand the go-ahead runners on base and flip the momentum back in favor of St. Clairsville.
That momentum carried over into the sixth inning as catcher Jacob Jarvis led off with a single and moved all the way to third when a tailor-made double play ball of the bat of Jake Johnson took a bad hop and bounced high over the head of Engle at shortstop for a base-hit.
Hesson hit Drake Dobson with a pitch to load the bases with nobody out and Engle elected to bring Roberts into pitch.
Roberts induced Matt Busby into grounding into a force play at home but a Ramsay single and a fielder’s choice by first baseman Cade Bloomquist put St. Clairsville back in front 6-4.
Wallace picked up right where he left off in the last of the fifth as he fanned a pair of Beverly/Lowell hitters sandwiched around a walk to Brothers to begin the inning.
Engle drew a walk to extend the inning and Huffman singled to load the bases.
Bradford took one for the team when he was drilled by a Wallace fastball to force in the fifth run of the game before Inser collected yet another huge base hit as he lined a shot into right center field to score Engle and Huffman with the tying and go ahead runs as Bradford advanced to third base.
“I was down in the count and Todd (Engle) tells us whenever we are down in the count to make a team at-bat,” said Isner, who started the game as designated hitter and also played first and third bases before the game was over. “I wasn’t swinging hard and I was trying to go backside and score a couple runs and get us back in front.”
Post 389/750 got an insurance run as well thanks to some more heads up base running by Bradford, who scampered home from third when St. Clairsville errantly fired the ball to second base on a walk to Cook.
Roberts walked the first two Post 159 batters in the top of the seventh before getting Johnson to bounce into a double play started by Engle at shortstop.
With two strikes on the next hitter, Engle elected to preserve Roberts for Wednesday’s game as his pitch count closed in on 30 and Huffman came on to fire one strike to fan Dobson for the final out of the game and save the thrilling victory.
“They stole the momentum from us late and I don’t know how we got it back but we did,” said Engle, who will be looking to capture his 11th district championship in 15 years as head coach tonight. “I think Ron (Antill) said it best tonight that the two best teams in the district are here. They are a helluva baseball team and I have a lot of respect for them. This should be the game that everyone wanted to see.”