Golden Eagles use traditional approach to top Beaver Eastern, 2-1

BELPRE – No. 6-seeded Beaver Eastern had a unique pitching strategy that came very close to working in Thursday’s Division IV sectional championship game at Civitan Park against the third-seeded Belpre Golden Eagles.

Belpre took a more traditional approach in the circle and that proved to be the right call as the Golden Eagles nipped Eastern 2-1 to claim their first sectional championship in five seasons.

Eastern used three different pitchers in the game, never letting any one pitcher go through the Belpre lineup more than once, which yielded great results as Belpre managed just two runs and seven hits in the game.

Belpre coach Stephanie Evans relied on right hander Katie Osburn and the sophomore answered the call in grand fashion as she held Eastern to five hits while striking out nine as Belpre advanced to district play next Thursday in Minford.

“It wasn’t a thing a beauty, but we are very happy to be squeaking by with a one-run win,” said Evans of her team’s big win. “Katie did a great job pitching and our defense behind her did their job as well.”

Belpre quickly jumped in front 1-0 off Beaver Eastern starting pitcher Savanna Garrison in the opening inning as, with one out, freshman catcher Olivia Shutts singled and came in to score when Osburn doubled to the fence in left field.

The Golden Eagles increased their lead to 2-0 in the third when Lauryn Simmons led off with a single and came around to score on a clutch two-out, run-scoring double off the bat of third baseman Bri Elkins.

Osburn was strong in the circle right from the get-go as she fanned four of the first six hitters she faced and held Eastern scoreless for the first four innings.

Beaver Eastern left the bases loaded in the fourth without scoring a run before finally getting on the board in the top of the fifth.

Garrison singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and came into score on a single by Maddy Veach.

Leah Compton followed with an infield single, but once again Osburn rose to the occasion to limit the damage and keep her team in front by a run.

Belpre got a pair of base hits by Simmons and Elkins in their half of the fifth off Eastern relief pitcher Anna Stalker but could not dent the plate leaving the outcome of the game in the hands of Osburn and the Belpre defense.

Osburn allowed a lead-off walk in the top of the sixth inning but recovered quickly to retire the final six hitters in the game to clinch the 19th victory of the season for Belpre against just six losses.

“I’m very proud of these girls for hanging tough. We played pretty good defense today which carried us through,” said Evans. “We were hitting the ball pretty hard, it just kind of seemed to be right at them. When that happens offensively, you have to rely on pitching and defense and that’s what we did today.”

The loss brought Beaver Eastern’s season to an end with a 10-11 record, while the Golden Eagles will play next Thursday night in Minford against either No. 2 Portsmouth Clay or No. 7 Mowrystown White Oak.

“Eastern had a great strategy and that kind of threw us off a little bit,” said Evans. “I’m just proud of the girls for hanging in there and making the adjustments. They have really worked very hard and this (sectional title) is a great reward for that hard work.”