Brett Beith

Lakeview’s Brett Beith heads home in a game against Jamestown last spring.

Bill Beith believes Lakeview High’s baseball team was destined for a District 10 championship; instead, PIAA – owing to the COVID-19 pandemic – canceled the 2020 scholastic spring season. So this summer has been somewhat of a salvation and served to sooth some of that disappointment.

Today at 6 p.m., Hermitage-I (14-1-1) and Lakeview (9-7) meet in the Tri-County High School Summer League’s Gold Division winner’s bracket finals. Hickory High’s newly-refurbished field will serve as the site.

“It’s good to be playin’ ball after missing the spring season,” related Lakeview Coach Beith, a former Lakeview High and Clarion University standout. “(The aborted spring season) was a little disappointing, because we had a larger number of seniors and I thought we had a pretty good team coming back. Last year (2019) we made it to the District 10 championship game, which was kind’ve a year ahead of what we’d anticipated.

“But we’d been waiting for this year for a while,” Beith admitted.

This summer’s Lakeview edition is composed primarily of the same squad that, as 13- and 14-year olds, finished 4th in the state 2 years ago. The only additions have been Beith’s son, Brett, and Nate McIntire.

Thus far in this double-elimination tournament Lakeview defeated Slippery Rock-I (10-5) and Ellwood City (7-5), while Hermitage-I has wins over Sharpsville (1-0) and Union Twp. (14-4).

Lakeview started the season slow – including a 10-1 loss to Hermitage – but Beith said a lack of practice time may have contributed to that.

“We didn’t play real good baseball (early), but it’s just finally started to click,” Coach Beith admitted, adding, “We’re still not where we could be.”

Despite the recent success, a large loss looms for Lakeview as right-handed pitcher Trent Milliren sustained a broken arm (the humerus of his throwing shoulder) while running the bases. Beith said Milliren was caught in a rundown, dove for the bag, but collided with the 2nd baseman’s leg. Though the mishap occurred in the 1st frame, he pitched the next inning, then finished the game as an infielder.

“It’s a testament to him as a player,” Beith praised. “Obviously, he’s very disappointed. But hopefully he’ll be healthy,” Beith added regarding the 2019 D-10 Region pitcher of the year. “He’s been our number one pitcher since his sophomore year. It’s a big loss – when you’re in any kind of situation, losing your number one pitcher – but especially when you’re in a double-elimination tournament, and especially with the pitching (innings) restriction – so we’re scrambling.”

Beith’s son Brett, a southpaw and 3-sport scholastic standout, is an outfielder, but will have to pick up some of that slack. Beith, Milliren and Brandon Partridge are bound for Penn State DuBois to continue their collegiate careers, noted Hermitage Head Coach Greg Evans, who said,

“Lakeview is a very balanced and well-coached team. Bill Beith does an outstanding job with his club. They are led by Milliren, Partridge and Beith. ... Also, Kyle Uber, Jared Obreza and Ted Shillito are major contributors. We will have to play very well in all phases to beat them.”

Regarding his Hermitage-I club, Evans assessed, “Our pitching and defense have been the mainstay for us all season. We’ve rolled up six double plays in the last two games, which has really gotten us out of some jams. I’m hopeful, offensively, we can use the momentum from Wednesday’s game versus Union – when we had 18 hits – for (tonight’s game). Nick Osborne, Sully Brown, Brandon Boyles, Nathan Boal and Jason Stanek have really stepped up for us.

“It should be a highly competitive and exciting game, and we are really looking forward to it!” Evans concluded.

“We’re excited,” echoed the elder Beith, who admitted, “It’s been tough. We didn’t play very well at the beginning of the season, and it ended us having the number seven seed. We knew it’d be a tough battle, playing the number three (seed), then number two (seed), and now number one.

“But,” Beith brightened, “we’re in a good situation. Hermitage is a good program and good team. When we played them we lost 10-1, but we didn’t play well. Trent started and pitched the first three innings and it was zero-zero ... 

“We’ll see what happens. It’s one of those deals where, if you have the opportunity to be there (winner’s bracket finals), since you’re there you might as well win. But we have to play well. Hickory is a great program, well-coached. It’s nice to play them. They just go out and play ball (without any trash-talking), and we just like to play baseball, so this is good for us,” Beith concluded.

Notes: In the Gold Division loser’s bracket Thursday night, Butler (9-5-1) traveled to Slippery Rock-I (12-4). Sharpsville (9-7) was scheduled to visit Grove City-I (10-5), but the game wasn’t played due to a Sharpsville student testing positive for COVID-19. The school district has canceled all activities for 14 days. The Gold Division championship game is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, either at Hickory High or Hermitage Athletic Complex. ... In the Silver Division, Greenville (7-8) hosts Hermitage-II (4-12) at 6 p.m. tonight at Packard Park. Hermitage-II out-slugged Slippery Rock-II (13-10), while Greenville blanked Center Twp. (16-0). Also Thursday night, Kennedy Catholic (4-11) welcomed Center Twp. (3-13), while Slippery Rock-II (4-11) visited Grove City-II (2-13) in loser’s bracket games. The Silver Division survivors square off Saturday at Hermitage Athletic Complex. The championship game is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday at HAC.