Beverly/Lowell upends St. Clairsville, earns repeat trip to state

MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times Members of Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 dogpile after defeating St. Clairsville 16-4 in the American Legion baseball District 11 tournament championship Wednesday at Don Coss Field in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 rolled to a 16-4 victory Wednesday at Don Coss Field to cap an incredible 72-hour roll that saw them escape from the losers bracket and then go on to beat St. Clairsville Post 159 twice to capture the District 11, Region 8 tournament for the second consecutive season.

Tyler Bradford and Clayton Cook each played long-ball and Drew Huffman fired six solid innings as Beverly/Lowell punched its ticket to the state tournament next week in Lancaster.

“I am just so proud of all these kids and all of the coaches and though a lot of the parents I don’t really know … I know them through their kids and they have done a helluva job raising them,” said Beverly/Lowell skipper Todd Engle. “Our goal coming in was to win as many innings as we could and we did that tonight.”

Early on the title tilt had the look of a pitchers duel between Huffman and Post 159 starter Mason Ramsay before the B/L bats started to come to life in the top of the third inning.

Lead-off batter Tate Engle got things started by drawing a one-out walk and one out later Tyler Bradford doubled to put runners on second and third.

Logan Isner, who had homered in each of the prior three games, was due to bat next but St. Clairsville head coach Mike Muklewicz elected to walk him intentionally and take his chances against Bev/Low catcher Clayton Cook.

Cook quickly made them pay as he drove a Ramsay pitch deep into left-center field for a three-run triple to give the “Boys of Summer” a 3-0 lead.

“I kind of took that personally because if they put him on base like that they must of thought I couldn’t do anything with it,” said Cook, who came into the game with a batting average of over .500 for the season. “I wanted to show them and show up for my team and get the ball in play.”

St. Clairsville got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third when Jake Johnson walked and came into score on a double off the bat of Logan Elliott.

After both teams went quietly in the fourth inning, Post 389/750 began to put some distance between itself and St. Clairsville by scoring four more times in the fifth.

Huffman drew a walk to open the inning before back-to-back singles by Bradford and Isner plated the fourth run of the game.

St. Clairsville reliever Drake Dobson struggled to find his control as he plunked Cook with a pitch and then walked Konnor Roberts to force in another run.

Tanner Neal was also hit by a pitch to force in another marker before second baseman Nate Brothers capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Huffman had what would prove to be his only rough stretch of the game as Post 159 touched him up for three runs in the bottom of the fifth with the big blow coming on a two-run double to straight away center field by Johnson.

That bit of momentum gained by St. Clairsville would be short lived to say the least as Beverly/Lowell erupted for nine more runs in the sixth to increase their lead to 12.

The first four hitters in the B/L lineup each scored three runs in the game including Engle who once again led off the sixth with a base-on-balls.

Huffman’s opposite-field double scored the first run of the inning and Bradford followed with a rocket that easily cleared the fence in right field for a two-run homer.

“I was seeing the ball real well tonight and all that work my teammates and I put in down at the cage paid off,” said Bradford, who went 4-for-5 in the game while knocking in three runs. “There’s an old saying that nobody makes it out of the losers bracket except for Beverly/Lowell so we always knew we had a chance.”

After Isner was hit in the helmet by a Dobson fastball, Cook put an exclamation point on yet another Beverly/Lowell district title when he connected on a long two-run homer to left field to knock in his fourth and fifth runs of the game.

Huffman rebounded from the rough fifth to retire St. Clairsville in the last of the sixth as Post 389/750 claimed its 11th district championship in Engle’s 15-year tenure as head coach.

Making the trip from the losers bracket all the way to the championship is even more impressive considering the fact that their all-state left handed pitcher Bradford was very limited on the mound in the tourney due to some arm issues.

“If you would have told me we were going to have to come back through the losers bracket and win six games and he (Bradford) wasn’t going to be able to pitch I would have told you there was no way in the world it was going to happen,” said Todd Engle. “That’s a real credit to our kids and shows what kind of a team we have.”

While St. Clairsville’s season comes to a close with a 17-10 record, 33-8 Beverly/Lowell heads back to Lancaster next week to begin the state tournament.

“I think we are so much tougher now that we went through the state tournament last year,” said Bradford. “We are definitely going to be ready and hopefully we can win it all this year.”