Beverly/Lowell wins district tourney opener

MARIETTA – For Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750, the third time was the charm against St. Clairsville pitcher Michael Jacob.

After being shut out by the left-hander twice during the past two seasons, Beverly/Lowell finally figured him out Thursday evening, winning a 6-2 decision in district tournament action at Don Schaly Stadium.

B/L (24-12) will match up with Cambridge at noon today in the winner’s bracket while St. Clairsville will play Zanesville at 3:30 p.m. in an elimination game.

Post 389/750 touched up Jacob early with a three spot in the first inning and later tacked on insurance runs against him in the fourth and sixth innings to build a 5-0 lead. Overall, Jacob surrendered five runs in seven innings, striking out four and walking seven. His defense didn’t help matters, committing three errors behind him.

On the other side, Ben Barnas was lights out for seven innings. He was pulled with two outs in the eighth after allowing two runs. He struck out two and walked two en route to earning the victory. B/L had just one error in the game.

Jacob allowed a double to the first batter of the game, Jake Ullman, before Ethan Estes and Derek Layton both reached on bunts to load the bases. Lance Schafer then smacked an RBI single to left before Blake Kidder and Gunnar Smith produced back-to-back run-scoring groundouts to make it 3-0.

Bryce Gandee led off the bottom of the fourth with a base on balls. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Ullman’s single to right to make it 4-0.

Beverly/Lowell’s lead increased to 5-0 in the sixth thanks to wildness by Jacob. Kyler Dennis walked to lead off the inning and was at third after a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. After Jacob walked Gandee to put runners on the corners with one out, Ullman punched a sac fly deep to left-center to plate Dennis.

St. Clairsville finally figured out Barnas in its fourth turn through the lineup. After Barnas got two quick outs in the eighth, he gave up his first run of the game when Tyler Ramsay doubled and then Dylan Curtin singled. With Curtin on second, Malik Gummer knocked him in with a single to left-center. Barnas was pulled after walking the next batter and relieved by lefty Justin Hill. Hill gave up an infield single but still got out of the jam on just four pitches.

B/L scored a run via a wild pitch by St. Clairsville reliever Nathan Steele in the bottom of the eighth before Hill slammed the door in the ninth to seal Beverly/Lowell’s spot in the winner’s bracket.

It was Beverly/Lowell’s 16th win in its last 17 games. The club will look to knock off defending district-champ Cambridge, which is riding a seven-game winning streak.