Beverly/Lowell tops St. Clairsville, headed to state

Members of Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 form a dogpile after beating St. Clairsville, 4-2, in Wednesday’s district championship at Don Coss Field in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — Kurt Taylor finished strong.

The hard-throwing righthander from Warren High fanned 12, including eight whiffs in the last three innings, as Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 three-peated as District 11, Region 8 baseball champion with a 4-2 come-from-behind triumph over St. Clairsville Post 159 Wednesday night at Don Coss Field.

“That’s the most strikeouts I’ve ever had in a game, and it couldn’t have come at a better moment,” said Taylor. “I was working real well. So I got a little bit of confidence behind me, and it (ball) just started come out of there a lot faster than what it normally does.”

Taylor struck out the side in both the fifth and seventh innings. In the final frame, St. Clairsville (22-10) had the tying runs on base.

“Kurt is a bulldog,” said BevLow skipper Todd Engle. “He threw the game of his life, and he pitched his butt off for our team.”

Photos by Ron Johnston Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 poses for a team picture after defeating St. Clairsville Post 159, 4-2, Wednesday at Don Coss Field in Cambridge. Beverly/Lowell won the district championship and is headed to the state tournament next week.

Hurling a 7-inning complete game, Taylor walked zero batters and allowed seven singles, four of which came in the third inning when St. C scored its two runs.

With the victory, Beverly/Lowell (25-7) claimed its 10th American Legion district title in the last 13 years.

“We’ve built something here, and you can see that the community supports it,” Engle said. “We’ve got something special here.”

Offensively for the winners, Drew Huffman and Luke Nelson had two hits apiece, while Mason Long, Evan Gandee, Tate Engle, and Nelson each drove in a run.

St. C righty Jakob Jarvis suffered the mound setback in relief of starter Jake Probst.

Matt Busby, a Marietta College recruit, also threw for Post 159.

Capitalizing on two free passes, BevLow staked itself to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the second when Nelson singled home Clayton Cook.

In the bottom of the third, Probst singled home both Busby and Mason Ramsay to give St. Clairsville a 2-1 lead.

But in the sixth Post 389/750’s bats came alive. Leading off, Brett Gandee worked Jarvis for a walk. After pinch runner Caleb Davis advanced to second on a groundout, he raced home with the equalizer on Mason Long’s double to left.

“Mason, one of our younger kids, really came up big there,” Todd Engle said.

Next up, Evan Gandee singled home Long for the go-ahead run, and Tate Engle followed with an RBI double to right-center to make it 4-2.

“That’s what we needed,” Todd Engle said. “We just needed to give Kurt some run support and we got it.”

Taylor naturally appreciated the run support.

“It’s a lot easier to pitch whenever you’re up than whenever you’re down,” he said.

Taylor got into a little jam in the bottom of the seventh when he gave up a leadoff infield hit to Tyler Tonkovich. Taylor was able to strike out the next St. C batter but then gave up a single to Will Balgo.

Bearing down, Taylor slipped a called third strike past Busby and then got Ramsay swinging to end the game.

Ron Johnston can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com