A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beechwood claims 9th Region All “A” Classic baseball championship with 9-0 win over NewCath

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Winning the 9th Region All “A” Classic was the first item on the Beechwood baseball team’s to-do list this spring and the Tigers checked it off with three dominating victories.

Beechwood defeated Newport Central Catholic, 9-0, in the regional final on Tuesday after winning two previous tournament games against Villa Madonna and Newport by matching scores of 14-0. If the Tigers win a sectional playoff game against the 10th Region champion, they’ll advance to the small-school state tournament for the fourth time in the last five years.

Beechwood coach Kevin Gray

“We have been playing pretty well lately,” said Beechwood’s first-year head coach Kevin Gray. “And we’re starting to hit from top to bottom (in the batting order) so everything is starting to click at the right time.”

Pitching was a question mark for the Tigers coming into the season, but posting shutouts in three 9th Region All “A” Classic games has swept away some of the doubt. In the title game on Tuesday, senior right-hander Evan Schlinger gave up no runs on six hits in six innings to pick up the win that lifted his team’s record to 8-2.

“We really don’t have a No. 1 guy (in the pitching rotation),” coach Gray said. “We’ve got a bunch of No. 2 guys and we can put any one of them out there at any time. With Evan being a senior, we thought we’d give him a shot. He was on a short leash if he got into any trouble, but he did an awesome job.”

In last year’s regional final, NewCath scored a run in the ninth inning and upset Beechwood, 5-4. There was very little drama in Tuesday’s rematch as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first and continued to pull away.

Beechwood ended up with nine runs on 11 hits with junior center fielder Logan Castleman and sophomore right fielder Marcus Berger both getting two hits and driving in two runs.

Schlinger, one of only three seniors on the Beechwood roster, said he had never pitched in a championship game before. He was surprised that the coaching staff put him on the mound for Tuesday’s title game.

Beechwood pitcher Evan Schlinger

“A little bit,” he said, “because the past few games I haven’t been finding the strike zone very much. I guess they trusted me.”

Schlinger’s teammates give him a 2-0 lead before he threw his first pitch. Then they played steady defense to keep NewCath from putting any runs on the board.

The Tigers’ best defensive play came with two out in the fifth inning. NewCath had runners on first and second when Gunner Smith ripped a single to center field. As the lead runner was rounding third, Castleman made a throw that got the second runner out to end the inning.

“They’re incredible out there,” Schlinger said of his fielders. “I can throw the ball over the plate and know they’ll have my back and that I can trust them.”

Beechwood’s only error came in the sixth inning on a wide throw to first base. A two-out single put a runner in scoring position, but Schlinger retired the next batter on a ground out to end the threat.

That was Schlinger’s last inning on the mound and he got a big hug from the team’s new head coach as he came to the dugout.

“They’ve all been working hard since the first day we hit the weight room,” coach Gray said. “They’ve really come together as a team. It’s like a family. That’s the way we wanted it and that’s how it feels.”

BEECHWOOD   210  330  0 — 9  11  1
NEWCATH         000  000  0 — 0   7  3

WP — Schlinger. LP — Smith. HITTING LEADERS: B — Doverspike 2-4, 2B; Berger 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Hamilton 2-3, 3B; Castleman 2-4, 2 RBI. NC — Smith 2-4. RECORDS: Beechwod 8-2, NewCath 4-1.

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One Comment

  1. William Berman says:

    I am really impressed with your paper. Good articles with most if not all about Northern Ky. Since returning from the west coast after being gone for 39 yrs. I was less than impressed with the major paper and small papers with only one agenda. Good job.

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