By STEVE RAPPACH
HANOVERTON - United senior Garrett Beech may not have rendered Columbiana hitless, but he did keep the Clippers winless.
Beech kept the Clippers in check Friday as he struck out 10 and gave up a hit as the Eagles shut out the struggling Clippers 4-0 in Inter-Tri County League upper tier action.
"I knew we had to get ahead of the batters," Beech said. "We just needed to play defensively stronger, and get them out sooner."
The Eagles improve to 6-7 overall and 4-4 in the upper tier with Beech's solid performance on the mound. He also had an RBI double in the third that allowed J.D. Swords to score and he added another run on a hustle play at home plate in the fifth.
"Coach called the squeeze and we didn't get the ball down, but things just happened to go our way on that one," Beech said. "It's always fun running into home and getting the run."
Beech's victory served as proof of his improvements as noticed by coach Bob Manfull.
"He's had a couple tough games, but it wasn't entirely his fault," Manfull said. "Sometimes defense doesn't play well, but that's high school baseball. He's pitched well for us, and we're proud to have him here."
Along with Beech's efforts, Andrew Martin and Matt Blake also each scored a run while Stephen Leyman and Colton Antram contributed with a single each as the team's offense also improves.
"We were having trouble putting the ball into play," Manfull said. "Now we've been putting the ball into play and we've been improving there."
Meanwhile, the offensive struggle for the Clippers (0-9, 0-6) continued again as Eagle defense was too powerful. Mitch Davidson, however, spoiled Beech's no-hitter hopes with a hit to right field in the sixth inning, the only silver lining on offense.
"It's been our problem all year, we just can't hit," Columbiana coach Brian Dickens said. "It seems like most of the pitches we've seen have been fastballs, and that's the depressing part is that we can't hit the fastball."
Despite giving up four runs, Devin Rice also had a decent night for the Clippers as he struck out seven in his five innings before Zach Frenger relieved him in the sixth.
"He comes everyday ready to pitch," Dickens said. "He comes in and warms up and has his routine everyday. He's a great kid, and he's our number one pitcher."
The Eagles look to capitalize on the season and keep the Clippers winless this weekend.
"We just got to show up like we did tonight and put the ball in play," Beech said. "If we play defense like we did, then we can come with the W."
The two will go at it again at 11 a.m. today at Firestone Park.
C-Devin Rice, lp (5IP, 7K, 4BB), Zach Frenger (1IP, 2K, 0BB) and Keenan Green.
U-Garrett Beech, wp (7IP, 10K, 6BB) and J.D. Swords.