Beverly/Lowell still alive at state

LANCASTER — Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 scored five runs in the fifth and held off a late rally by Conneaut Post 151 to come away with a 7-5 win in an elimination game at the state tournament Friday at Beavers Field.

Beverly/Lowell (31-8) will play at 1 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Wayne County Post 68 and Circleville Post 134. Beverly/Lowell lost to Circleville, the defending state champ, 7-2 on Thursday. Conneaut finished its season 32-9.

Tyler Bradford’s solo home run to right-center field in the top of the first staked Beverly/Lowell to a 1-0 lead, but Post 151 tied it in the bottom of the fourth. Kevin Spehar walked with one out, stole second and advanced to third on Jacob Zappitelli’s groundout before scoring on Ben Salesky’s RBI single up the middle.

Beverly/Lowell responded in a big way the following half-inning, plating five runs and chasing Conneaut starter John Simons. Tate Engle and Bradford walked to get things started. Engle scored the go-ahead run on Clayton Cook’s RBI base knock, prompting Conneaut coach Joe Zappitelli to pull Simons in favor of Spehar. Spehar was greeted by Seth Dennis’ bunt single to load the bases before Beverly/Lowell started pitcher Kurt Taylor helped himself with a two-run poke to make it 4-1. Dennis later came in to score on a balk before Taylor came around on Evan Gandee’s RBI single to cap off the big inning.

Conneaut got one back in the bottom of the fifth after Nick Stoltz, who led off with a triple, scored on Nick Reichek’s RBI groundout to short, but Beverly/Lowell immediately stretched its lead back to five, 7-2, in the top of the sixth when Bradford scored on a wild pitch.

Taylor was sharp through five innings on the mound but ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when Matthew Nicklas came through with a pinch-hit, two-run single to make it 7-4. Post 389/750 skipper Todd Engle called on Brett Gandee to relieve Taylor with runners at second and third and one out, and Gandee induced back-to-back popouts to escape further damage.

Gandee allowed a run in the bottom of the seventh when Zachary Houghtaling’s RBI groundout plated Reichek to make it 7-5. However, Gandee punched out Spehar and got Jacob Zappitelli to ground out to second to earn the save.

Taylor, the winner, went 5 1/3 innings for Beverly/Lowell. Simons took the loss for Conneaut, lasting four innings, while Spehar pitched an inning and John Susnik worked two innings of relief.