BEVERLY - When Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750 enters district play Wednesday at Don Coss Field in Cambridge, head coach Todd Engle is hoping his squad can get the bats going.
"We've been sporadic offensively," said the skipper, in his 12th year with Beverly/Lowell.
"Our situational hitting has got to get better. We've got to move runners, get bunts down and just have better approaches at the plate."
Engle believes clutch hitting is the name of the game.
"I've always said that championship teams are built around guys that can get that big two-out hit," he explained.
Post 389/750 is currently 18-17 on the year with two regular season games left (doubleheader at Meigs Saturday) before district play. The club is reeling after losing four games over the weekend at Lancaster, but Engle feels a tough schedule has taken a toll on his group.
"Due to our brutal schedule, we just haven't developed that confidence or that swagger that we've had in the past," he said. "We're better than our record indicates."
One area that has been consistent throughout the year has been Beverly/Lowell's pitching. The staff has put together a 3.43 earned run average in 2013.
Lefty Evan Sawyer is the team's ace. Sawyer is 4-3 this year with a 2.18 ERA and is expected to start game one of the district tourney. Right-hander Ben Barnas likely will be the game two starter, and look for Dustin Duffy, Justin Hill and Kyler McElfresh to get some innings on the mound as well. Kordell Antill, who has been limited with an injury, could see some action if he gets healthy.
At the plate, B/L has been led by Lance Schafer, whose .400 batting average and 22 runs-batted-in are tops on the club. Ethan Estes has had a nice year at the plate, hitting .367 with 22 RBIs, and Jake Ullman has performed well with a .356 average and 18 runs driven in.
Beverly/Lowell will open up against Cambridge on Wednesday. If it wins that game, it will play the winner of St. Clairsville and Zanesville on Thursday. The championship game of the double-elimination tournament will be played next Saturday.
"I like where we're at right now," Engle said. "We could be very competitive in our district."
Around the diamond, Post 389/750 likely will have Gunnar Smith behind the plate, Hill at first, Jordan Satterfield at second, Ullman at shortstop, Estes or Phillip Hoffman at third, Estes or Devin Leister in left field, Austin Campbell in center and Schafer in right.
"This has been an interesting year," Engle remarked. "We're gonna have to turn our game up a notch at district to be successful."