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Beechwood remains undefeated with 10-2 win over St. Henry in 9th Region All “A” Classic baseball final

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Winning the 9th Region All “A” Classic championship game is nothing new for Beechwood’s baseball team. The Tigers claimed their fifth title in the last six years on Tuesday, but this time they did it to remain undefeated.

Beechwood extended its perfect record to 13-0 with a 10-2 win over St. Henry in the regional championship game on Tuesday at UC Health Stadium in Florence. This is the Tigers’ best start since 2003 when the team won its first 23 games and finished the season with a 33-2 record.

Logan Castleman

“It’s been an exciting start and we’re hoping to keep it up,” said Beechwood senior outfielder Logan Castleman. “We’re just going to keep playing our type of baseball, keep playing hard and being hard-nosed kids.”

The Tigers will take on the winner of the 10th Region All “A”Classic in a sectional playoff game to determine a berth in the eight-team small school state tournament that’s set for April 27 and 28 in Owensboro. Last year, Beechwood defeated Hazard, 3-1, in the state final and added the championship trophy to the ones it brought home in 2016, 2014 and 2006.

Castleman was named most valuable player on the 9th Region All “A” Classic all-tournament team Tuesday. In the last two games, he reached base in all seven of his at-bats with two walks, three doubles, one triple and a single. He now has a .710 batting average that ranks second in the state.

But he’s not the only tough out in Beechwood’s lineup. In the regional final on Tuesday, the first five players in the batting order accounted for 10 of the team’s 12 hits and drove in eight of the 10 runs.

“When you get to the top of our lineup in RBI situations, we’re pretty hard to stop,” said Beechwood coach Kevin Gray.

Kevin Gray

The Tigers’ first five hitters are all seniors and two of them — Castleman and shortstop John Odom — have been starting since they were freshmen. Carter Noah, the winning pitcher in Tuesday’s game, is also a senior. He picked up his fourth decision with the help of some timely hitting by his teammates.

In the top of the fourth inning, St. Henry scored two runs that cut Beechwood’s lead to 3-2. Alex Harris ripped a triple into the right-center field gap and then scored on a fielder’s choice. Jake Day drew a walk, advanced to second on the fielder’s choice and scored on a single by A.J. Stewart for the Crusaders (8-3).

But the Tigers scored three runs in the bottom of the inning off St. Henry starter Kameron Kraus to pull ahead once more. Castleman drove in one run by blasting a ball over the center fielder’s head that rolled to the wall. The other two runs came home on a two-out bloop single to right field by senior Devin Johnson that made it 6-2.

“When (St. Henry) got those two runs and cut it to 3-2, it got a little tight,” said coach Gray. “But then we responded with three runs of our own, and that was huge for us.”

Freshman reliever Brett Holladay pitched the final two innings for Beechwood. He got the last six outs with the help of an unassisted double play by Odom in the sixth. In the bottom of that inning, the Tigers scored four runs on four hits off two St. Henry relief pitchers to extend their winning margin to 10-2.

“It’s our experience,” Castleman said of his team’s strong finish after having a lead cut to one run. “We’ve been exposed to it for years in high school. We know how to deal with it and have the mentality to never give up and keep on pushing through.”

ST. HENRY       000  200  0 —  2   4  2
BEECHWOOD  210  304  x — 10 12 0

WP — Noah (8 Ks). LP — Kraus (7 Ks). HITTING LEADERS: B — Odom 3-4; Castleman 2-2, 2B; Hutton 2B; Johnson 3-3, 4 RBI; Noll 2B. SH — Harris 3B. RECORDS: Beechwood 13-0, St. Henry 8-3.

Beechwood — Logan Castleman (MVP), John Odom, Devin Johnson, Ayden Hutton. St. Henry — Jake Brockman, Alex Harris. NewCath — Corey Carver. Villa Madonna — Thomas Fuller. Holy Cross — Jackson Neff. Ludlow — Alex Joyce.

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