CHARLESTON -- The final game of day three of the American Legion Great Lakes Regional baseball tournament at Eastern Illinois saw a total of 31 runs, 29, hits, 13 walks and a hit batter. It all amounted to Beverly/Lowell (Ohio) Post 389/750 outlasting Danville Post 210, 16-15.
A big seven-run third inning was the difference as Swoyersville (Pa.) Post 644 eliminated Terre Haute (Ind.) Wayne Newton Post 346 14-4 in six innings.
The first game of the day, an elimination game, saw Gladwin County (Mich.) Post 171 score five runs in the third en route to a 6-3 triumph over Lyon County (Ky.) Post 68.
The tournament that started with eight teams is down to four Saturday, when Gladwin County takes on Danville and Swoyersville battles Beverly/Lowell at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively. Beverly/Lowell is 3-0 and the other three are 2-1 in tournament action.
The championship game is set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday with the if-necessary game to be at 3:30 p.m.
Beverly/Lowell 16, Danville 15
The game-winning run scored in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Andrew Huffman singled to right. With two outs, Clayton Cook hit an 0-2 pitch to center for a single, putting runners on the corners. Seth Dennis hit the first pitch into center, plating Huffman.
Danville's seventh started off well, when Logan Spicer walked on four straight pitches. Beverly/Lowell's Brett Gandee, who hit a two-run pinch-hit home run in the four-run fourth over the fence in left field, struck out the net two batters before center fielder Mason Long caught a fly ball to end the game.
It was a 1-1 game after two innings when the offensive fireworks exploded on a sun-splashed day. First, Danville scored five runs in the third to take a 6-1 lead.
Next, Beverly/Lowell took its first lead of the game with seven runs on just two hits as Post 210 had trouble finding the plate, walking seven batters. Post 389/750 led 8-6 after three innings.
Danville took its third lead of the game with three runs in the fourth for a 9-8 advantage. Beverly/Lowell answered with four runs for a 12-9 lead.
In the fifth, Danville scored six runs to take its fourth lead of the game, 15-12. Post 389/750 tied it with three in the fifth.
In the sixth, Beverly/Lowell held Danville scoreless when Post 210 left the bases loaded as shortstop Tate Engel field the ball and threw to first baseman, Tyler Bradford for the final out.
Bradford, Cook, Dennis, Long, and Gandee all drove in two runs for Post 389/750, with Cook going 3-for-5.
Danville's Dakota Broker, a recent Salt Fork graduate, was perfect in four at-bats. Chase Rademacher, Chase Vinson, and Tevor Davis all drove in three runs. Post 210 is 33-8, while Beverly/Lowell is 38-8 and has averaged 13 runs per game in the tournament.
Swoyersville 14, Terre Haute 4, 6 innings
Swoyersville entered the game having scored 10 runs or more in four of its 32 games and had not scored more than four runs in its last five games.
Trailing 4-2 to Terre Haute, which entered the game averaging nearly seven runs per contest, Post 644 found what it has been missing: a breakout inning.
"We have been waiting so long for so many games to break open a game and we finally did it," said Swoyersville coach Gary Gavrish. "We have been making an unbelievable run with pitching and defense and we just kept manufacturing and winning close games. We talked all night long and all of this morning (Friday) about how we have to break our bats out."
The fourth began with a single to right by Michael Kane. Colin Conway doubled to center and on a full-count pitch, Tommy Federici singled to right, scoring Kane. Stephen Banas hit one over the center fielder's head for a double, scoring Coway. Federici scored on a ground out and a double off the left-field wall plated Banas.
Terre Haute brought in a new pitcher, who walked Craig Cooley-Ruff on four pitches. With two outs, Tyler O'Kane singled to left and a run scored on an error by the left fielder. Two runs scored when Michael Kane reached on an error.
"What a response," Gavrish said. "We were down 4-2 and we could have put our heads down and quit, but we didn't. That was such a good response to come back and throw up a seven spot."
The team took a bus form Swoyersville, going eight hours on Monday and five hours on Tuesday. The team is staying at EIU's Taylor Hall.
"The kids have a lot of emotion and a lot of character," Gavrish said. "They are a fun group to coach and I am loving every minute of it. It is a memorable run now and I don't want it to end."
Gavrish called 6-3, 185-pound southpaw Craig Cooley-Ruff, who was the winning pitcher, one of the best athletes he has ever coached. Cooley-Ruff averaged 8.1 points per game and started in eight games in basketball at Eastern University a Division III school in St. David's Pa.
"I keep telling him he could play big-time baseball," Gavrish said. "He is a heck of a basketball player and next year might be his last as he is an engineering major.
Patrick Adamski, who completed his freshman year as a pitcher at Division III Keystone College, was 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Tyler O'Kane was 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Daniel Gibbons was 1-for-2 with two RBIs for Swoyersville.
Garrett Loyed was 2-for-4 for Terre Haute, who finished 27-10, while Edward Newman was perfect in three at-bats with an RBI.
As for Saturday, Gavrish said their goal is to get through it.
"It is going to be a battle," Gavrish said. "I know the Ohio team is a good team and we have a lot of respect for them. If we can make it through Saturday, we actually have a couple of pitchers that can come back on the last day. My style is to be aggressive. constantly pressure the defense. Put pressure on the bases, pressure on the plate. You have to grind it out every pitch especially now that the season is on the line."
Gladwin County 6, Lyon County 3
Gladwin County trailed 2-0 before scoring five runs in the third. It added one more in the fifth for a 6-2 lead before Lyon County, which finished 24-7 overall, added a run in the seventh.
Hunter Merillat was 2-for-4 for Gladwin County, who improved to 39-5, with a double and three runs batted in, while Jonas Kanouse was 1-for-1 with two RBIs and Reed Raymond was 3-for-4. Carson Longstreth was 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI for Post 171.
Raymond was the winning pitcher going five and two-thirds innings and allowing six hits and two runs with six strikeouts and four walks. Longstreth picked up the save throwing one inning and allowing one hit.
Lyon County's Davis Corbett was 2-for-4 with two doubles and Will Thompson was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Gladwin County is 39-5 and won the Michigan state tournament for the first time as well as the division tournament.