The bearded one: Beimel’s comeback lands in M’s bullpen
By Rich Rhoades
His beard growing longer by the day, Kersey native and St. Marys Area High School graduate Joe Beimel is enjoying quite a comeback story in the great Northwest.
While Not quite in Los Angeles Dodgers Brian Wilson’s beard class, Beimel is gaining ground for sure.
“I actually started growing it the day after Halloween,” Beimel said in an e-mail interview late last week. “I was Wolverine for Halloween and had the Wolverine beard. I shaved it off the next day and started this one.”
One website has Beimel’s beard ranked No. 12 in MLB.
But clearly, his return to the Major Leagues is a bigger deal. After missing two full seasons in the Major Leagues due to Tommy John surgery, the 37-year-old left-hander is back at it in the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen. Going into the All-Star break, Beimel is 2-1 with a 1.50 earned run average in 32 appearances covering 30 innings.
Just about every statistic is lower than his career average. Ever the optimist, Beimel never doubted he’d be back after learning of his elbow problems in spring training of 2012, the year after he was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011. He sported a bulky 5.33 ERA in 35 games.
“I had zero doubts,” Beimel said. “I have never been one to doubt myself because I know what I am capable of. It’s never easy. If it was, everybody would do it. I just worked hard through the rehab process, kept a positive attitude and had confidence that I would be back better than ever. I plan on pitching until I’m 50 so Tommy John Surgery was just a small bump in the road.”
Beimel did sign a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves last year and spent the whole season at Class AAA Gwinnett. He was 1-2 with a 4.36 ERA in 30 games covering 33 innings.
“The only thing that made it tough was the ups and downs of the first year back from Tommy John Surgery,” Beimel said. “I just didn’t consistently feel good every day. I would have one day where I would feel amazing and then the next day my arm would feel terrible. Everyone told me that was how the first year back is but you don’t really know until you experience it.
“Once I got around the 16-month mark after surgery, I started to feel back to normal. It was probably a blessing that I didn’t get called up because I was able to stay in AAA and work through all of the kinks and then had that extra month of rest before this season to allow me to get stronger.”
He signed a one-year deal with the Mariners in the offseason, made the roster in spring training and became a key lefty specialist out of manager Lloyd McClendon’s bullpen. He’s allowed 26 hits, only eight extra-base hits, all but one of them doubles, while walking 11 to go with 17 strikeouts. Left-handed batters are hitting just .146 against him.
Until Sunday, Beimel hadn’t allowed a run since April, a span of 21 appearances. He yielded his first homer of the season to Oakland’s Nick Punto.
Beimel’s primary pitches — sinker and fastball — continue to be his bread and butter. He’s averaging 87.7 mph on his fastballs, so it’s all about location. Even post-surgery, Beimel’s approach continues to be the same.
“The biggest improvement is just being healthy,” Beimel said. “I’m able to pitch and concentrate on getting guys out rather than focusing on how my arm feels. My approach is still the same. Keep the ball down and work ahead.”
He’s a part of one of the best pitching staffs in the league and that’s why the Mariners are in the hunt for the postseason, playing in the rugged American League West Division. Their team ERA is second in MLB and bullpen ERA tops.
“It always feels great when you’re pitching in the Big Leagues, but it is way more fun when you are a part of a team that is winning,” Beimel said. “This is definitely the best bullpen I have ever been a part of and it has been fun to watch each and every guy go out and get the job done.”
Many experts believe that the Mariners have a good shot at making the postseason, even though they’re in third place in the AL West behind Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels. At the break, they’re eight games behind the A’s, but own a 2 1/2 game lead in the race for the second wild card spot.
“We think we are pretty good,” Beimel said. “We are playing in the best division in baseball and feel like we can win every night. Our pitching is going to carry us and come October I expect us to be battling for a World Series Championship.”
McClendon and Beimel were together in Pittsburgh when Beimel broke into the majors in 2001. McClendon was Beimel’s first manager in the Bigs from his debut through 2003.
“Lloyd being here was a huge factor for me signing with Seattle,” Beimel said. “I knew he would give me every opportunity to make the team out spring training as long as I stayed healthy. He gave me an opportunity as a young player and I’m thankful for the one he gave me as an older player.”
It’s debatable on whether the Mariners’ success or Beimel’s comeback is more of a surprise. Either way, Beimel is enjoying the scenery. In his 16th season as a pro (not counting missing 2012 with his injury), Beimel’s next appearance will be the 600th major league game of his career.
“I feel like I’ve been ‘surprising’ people since I was drafted in 1998,” Beimel said. “It never gets old.”
NOTE: Article originally appeared in Sunday’s Tri-County Sunday
By Chris Rossetti
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Heartbreak for Elk County Catholic.
The Crusaders luck ran out Friday evening when Devon Prep, the District 1 champion, scored an unearned run on a throwing error by catcher Dan Stauffer in the bottom of the ninth inning to grab a 2-1 win in the PIAA Class A Championship Game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the home of Penn State baseball and the State College Spikes.
“It was a tough loss,” ECC head coach Father Eric Vogt said. “The more you invest in it, the more it hurts. They invested three-and-half months in it. They feel pretty bad. But they will recover. They are kids. We will recover. We will coach again next year.”
Devon Prep, which had tied the game without the benefit of a hit in the sixth inning, won the game without a hit in the ninth.
Sean Phelan led off the inning with a four-pitch walk off reliever and loser Ryan Childs. A fielder’s choice by Chris Bauers after a strikeout left the Tide with a runner at first and two outs. But Bauers stole second then stole third, his third and fourth stolen bases off the game and the seventh for Devon Prep, and scored when the throw Stauffer glanced off the glove of a leaping Ross Brennen at third base, who appeared to be late getting to the bag.
“The regular third baseman didn’t play,” Vogt said. “That is all that is.”
The loss ruined an otherwise great pitching performance by ECC, something fans of the District 9 champions had come to expect during the PIAA playoffs.
Brandon Schlimm made his second start in four days and was nearly unhittable allowing a bloop base hit to Dom Hardaway with one out in the first inning, which ended up being Devon Prep’s lone hit of the game. He went seven innings – he wasn’t allowed to go more than seven because he had pitched seven in the semifinal win over Bishop McCort Monday – striking out 11 while allowing the one hit. He also walked three and hit two.
Schlimm needed to be strong, as his mound opponent, Pat Rohr was nearly as a good.
Rohr went eight innings allowing five hits, none after the fourth inning, while walking two and striking out three.
“We just hit the ball right at them,” Vogt said. “Too many missed opportunities. That was the game.”
ECC got to Rohr for a run in the fourth when Wortman was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a ground out by Dan Singer before scoring on an infield single by Jonathan Dippold that glanced off the glove of second baseman CJ Kohlbrenner, who was playing in.
Devon Prep tied the game in the sixth scoring a run without the benefit of a hit.
Matt Bevilacqua led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. After Kohlbrenner reached on a fielder’s choice with Bevilacqua out at second and stole second, Hardaway walked and Tony Gallo was hit by a pitch.
Sean Phelan then blooped a ball into left field that landed safely allowing Kohlbrenner to score. Hardaway was out at third on the play having to wait up to see if the ball was caught.
“He hit the No. 9 hitter, and that was the game,” Vogt said.
ECC looked like it had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Vincent Jacob doubled off the tall Clemente-like wall in right field before going to third on a wild pitch. Wortman lifted a fly ball to right, and Jacob sprinted home apparently safely. But on appeal, it was determined by the third base umpire that Jacob left early, and he was ruled out.
“The tag up at third was huge,” Vogt said. “Its tough to see. I thought he left a little early. But with my angel, you never know. The umpires angel is the best.”
NOTES – It was the first extra inning game in PIAA Class A history – Class A started in 1999 … It was also just the fifth PIAA game of any classification to go at least nine innings. The last one as in Class AAAA when North Penn beat Lower Dauphin 6-5 in nine innings … The game was originally slated to start at 3:30 p.m. but was delayed because of the length of the Class AAAA title game before it. Then a 55-minute rain delay pushed the start time back to 6:02 p.m. … It marked the second straight year a D9 team played in the Class A title game. Johnsonburg won last year. Overall, D9 Class A teams have now played in four Class A title games going 2-2 with DuBois Central winning in 2001 and Johnsonburg losing in 2007 … ECC went 20 straight innings from the fifth inning of the first-round game against Sewickley Academy until the sixth inning of the game Friday night.
DEVON PREP 2, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 1
Score by Innings
ECC 000 100 000 – 1 5 1
Devon Prep 000 001 001 – 2 1 1
ECC – 1
Jacob CF 3020, B. Dippold lf/2b 4000, Wortman rf 3110, Singer ss 4000, J. Dippold 2011, Hoffman pr 0000 Struble pr/lf 0000, Schlimm p/1b 3000, Zelinski dh 4010, Brennen 3b 3000, Strauffer c 3000, Gerber cr 0000, Childs 1b/p 0000. Totals 29-1-5-1.
DEVON PREP – 2
Kohlbrenner 2b/lf 4100, Hardaway 3010, Gallo dh 3000, Phelan 1b/p 3001, Latran lf/1b 4000, Bauers cf 3100, Dipietro 3b 3000, Klicka rf 2000, Watters ph 0000, Bevilacqua ss 2000, Rohr p 0000. Totals 27-2-1-1.
LOB: ECC 6, Devon Prep 5. Errors: ECC 1, Devon Prep 1. 2B: Jacob. HBP: Wortman, Bevilacqua, Gallo. SB – Wortman, Kohlbrenner, Hardaway, Bauers, Watters.
ECC: Schlimm 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 11 Ks. Childs 1 ⅔ IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks.
Devon Prep: Rohr 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks. Phelan 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks.
WP: Phelan. LP: Childs
Note – ECC is visiting team
Current inning: Final
Score: Devon Prep 2, ECC 1
Notes: Devon Prep wins state title on a Steal of third and an error on the third baseman for failing to catch the throw … ECC had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out in 9th but a strikeout and a pickoff/cs ends the inning … This is 5th PIAA baseball title game (Regardless of class) to go to 9 innings and only 2nd in lowest classification (1989 Old Forge beat Bellwood-Antis 1-0 in 9 inn) Childs sets Devon down 1-2-3 in 8th facing top of order. Going on to the 9th … Childs in in B8 for ECC … Schlimm went 7IP, 1 Hit, 1 R, 11 KS, 3 BB, 2 HB … This is 1st extra inning Class A title game in PIAA history. Class A strated in 1999 … Devon gets runner to 3rd on walk, SB and WP with 2 outs in B7th but Schlimm gets 11th K of game to end threat … ECC down in order in top of 7th despite 12 pitch AB from Stauffer … Devon ties the game at 1 despite not getting a hit in the 6th … a walk, two hit batters loaded the bases and then Sean Phelan hits a blooper that lands (ECC got runner out at third on fielder’s choice) … ECC had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out in T6th but Schlimm grounds into a 1-5-3 inning-ending double play. Pitching dual continues … Schlimm has now retired 11 straight after another 1-2-3 inning in 5th … Great diving catch by Devon Prep’s CF Chris Bauers ends T5th. ECC leaves runner at 1st … Schlimm has now retired 8 in a row after a 1-2-3 4th … ECC scores first when Wortman is hit by a pitch steals 2nd, goes to 3rd on a groundout and scores on an infield single by Jonathan Dippold … After a 1-2-3 B3 ECC pitching now has thrown 17 2/3 straight innings of scoreless ball going back to 5th inning of Round 1 game with Sewickley Academy … ECC put runners on 1st & 3rd with two outs in T3 after Vincent Jacob’s 2nd hit of the game but Pat Rohr got Brad Dippold to ground out to SS to end the threat … Devon Prep strands a runner at third in B2 as Brandon Schlimm strikes out of the side while walking one (Devon had a pair of SB and now has 3 in the game) … ECC 2nd baseman Jonathan Dippold made a diving catch in shallow centerfield to end the bottom of the first. If the ball had gotten down it would have scored Dominic Hardaway from 2nd base … ECC appeared to take 1-0 lead in Top of 1st when Ivan Wortman hit an apperant sacrfice fly to score Vincent Jacob, who had doubled off the right-field wall to lead off. But on appeal at third it was determined Jacob left early creating an inning-ending double play.
First pitch for today’s PIAA Class A state championship game between Elk County Catholic and Devon Prep is slated for approximately 3:30. If you’re unable to make the trip to State College, you can listen live locally on two different station. PCN will also have tape-delay television coverage of the state title game and live online video (pay subscription required) of the game.
“The River 98.9″
Frequency: 98.9 FM
Pregame: 1:00 p.m.
“97.5 The Hound”
Frequency: 97.5 FM
Pregame: 2:30 p.m.
TELEVISION / ONLINE VIDEO
“PCN-TV” (Find your PCN channel)
Live Online Video (pay subscription required) – Click Here
Tape-Delay Television Broadcast – Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
STATE COLLEGE — District 9 goes for its fourth state baseball championship Friday afternoon when the Elk County Catholic Crusaders meet the District 1 champion Devon Prep Tide at Penn State University’s Medlar Field at 3:30 p.m.
The 26-0 Crusaders advanced to the finals for the first time in team history with a 1-0 win over Bishop McCort Monday in Punxsutawney. Meanwhile, 15-8 Devon Prep advanced with a 4-0 win over District 11 champion Schuylkill Haven.
Friday’s pitching matchup appears to have Prep’s No. 1 hurler in junior Pat Rohr ready to go. He’s 8-2 in 12 appearances with a 1.25 earned run average with 62 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Rohr entered the season as the team’s No. 3 starter, but he’s moved up the ladder. One big reason was an elbow injury to staff ace Zach Schellenger, a Seton Hall recruit who pitched in just three games this spring. Last year, he was 6-1 with a 0.86 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings.
Rohr hasn’t pitched since last Thursday’s 12-1 win over Canton. He tossed a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks. He’s allowed just one earned run in his last 19 innings on the mound.
The question for the Crusaders will be the status of ace Brandon Schlimm, who threw 119 pitches in his four-hit shutout of Bishop McCort Monday. The St. Bonaventure recruit is certainly eligible to go if able and he’s 11-0 with a 0.98 ERA with a whopping 125 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
Look for Ryan Childs to be a factor on the mound for some duration if head coach Father Eric Vogt thinks Schlimm can’t go the distance. Childs isn’t too shabby either. He’s 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 innings. He’s threw two innings in each of the Crusaders’ state playoff wins against Carmichaels and Sewickley Academy, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six.
In the state playoffs, Schlimm leads the Crusaders with a .571 average (4-for-7), including a triple that led to the only run in ECC’s win on Monday. Leftfielder Brad Dippold is hitting .444 (4-for-9). Another St. Bonaventure recruit, rightfielder Ivan Wortman, is hitting .333 (3-for-9) in the state playoffs. Shortstop Dan Singer is batting .375 (3-for-8).
The Tide are led offensively by junior catcher Dom Hardaway, a Boston College recruit who’s hitting .439 with 10 doubles and 28 runs batted in. He had two hits and drove in two runs in Monday’s win. Sophomore second baseman Tony Gallo is hitting .422 and University of Pennsylvania recruit Sean Phelan, a junior, is hitting .359 with three home runs and 29 RBIs.
District 1 has won three Class A state titles since four classifications were started in 2005, all of them by Christopher Dock in 2005, 2006 and 2010.
D9 BASEBALL TEAMS IN THE STATE FINALS
Johnsonburg 5, Canton 0
Punxsutawney 5, Marple Newtown 4 (District 1)
Minersville 4, Johnsonburg 1
DuBois CC 8, Camp Hill 7
Montoursville 4, DuBois 1
Old Forge 15, Ridgway 5, 6 innings
By Rich Rhoades
PUNXSUTAWNEY — For Brandon Schlimm and the Elk County Crusaders, it’s time to make travel plans to Penn State University Friday afternoon.
Main Campus, that is. Time: 3:30 p.m. Opponent: Devon Prep.
On the strength of the senior right-hander’s four-hitter and 11 strikeouts, the now 26-0 Crusaders punched their ticket to the PIAA Class A Championship game at Medlar Field with a 1-0 win over District 6 champion Bishop McCort.
“I knew we had potential, but I didn’t know we’d run the string,” Crusaders head coach Father Eric Vogt said. “It’s tough to do that in any sport. We’re going to give it heck and go at (Devon Prep).”
Schlimm also helped produce the game’s only run in the fourth inning when his two-out triple got things going, setting up Josh Zelinski’s run-scoring single that drove in courtesy runner Mitchell Struble.
That was all Schlimm needed to squeeze out his 119-pitch shutout despite having runners on base in all but one inning. The Crimson Crushers (19-8) stranded eight runners with three of them at third base, including one in the seventh inning when Schlimm whiffed mound opponent Brad Coleman to end the game.
“That was our goal,” Schlimm said of reaching the state finals. “We had a great team last year and had a tough loss in the first round. To come this year and play as well as we have is great.”
Schlimm would be available to pitch Friday.
“We’ll see how it feels,” said Schlimm, who improved to 11-0 and lowered his earned run average to 0.98 with 125 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. “I don’t think I’ll be able to go another seven, but hopefully be able to throw a few innings.”
Crusaders head coach Father Eric Vogt saw his ace pitcher rise to the occasion.
“The more he pitches the stronger he gets,” Vogt said. “His fastball got a little better as he went on and got into it. When you’re that thin and don’t have a lot of muscle, sometimes your body just has to get into a rhythm and he just did it.”
McCort’s Coleman was the hard-luck loser on the mound, tossing a six-hitter with seven strikeouts and just one walk. He threw 82 pitches, 60 of them for strikes. He was making his sixth straight postseason start, although he hadn’t finished all of those starts.
Going into the bottom of the fourth, the Crusaders had two hits — a first-inning Brad Dippold single and a third-inning bunt single by Vincent Jacob — with two other runners reaching on infield errors. And the fourth started harmless enough with two quick flyouts by Dan Singer and Jonathan Dippold.
But Schlimm ripped a drive into right-center where McCort centerfielder Nemo Trexler made what appeared to be an outstanding diving catch. However, the ball popped out of his glove when he hit the ground and Schlimm was able to reach third with a triple.
“I wasn’t much of a hitter last year at all, but this year, I found my stick,” said Schlimm, who went into the game batting .396.
After Struble replaced Schlimm as a courtesy runner, the left-handed Zelinski sliced a liner to left to score Schlimm.
The Crusaders got a second single from Dippold in the fifth inning, but stranded him at second and after Schlimm singled in the sixth for his second hit, courtesy runner Struble was stranded at second.
Meanwhile, McCort couldn’t get a runner to home plate, with its best chances coming in the first and third innings.
In the first, Schlimm struggled throwing strikes and walked two of the first three batters. With runners at first and third, the Crushers tried a delayed double steal of home, but the Crusaders sniffed it out and perfectly executed their defense in nailing Trexler at the plate.
After stranding runners at second and third in the second inning, McCort had runners on first and second with two outs in the third with No. 5 hitter Ethan Neiderhiser at the plate. Following a Neiderhiser foul ball, Schlimm had the ball on the mound and turned to fire the ball to second to try to get courtesy runner Zef Leech. The ball went into center field and Leech went around to score when centerfielder Jacob misplayed the overthrow.
But, from the outset, the home plate umpire was waving the play dead because he hadn’t made the ball live, which is usually indicated by pointing to the pitcher after he gets the ball.
“I never saw his arm go down,” Vogt said. “He never pointed to the pitcher to put the ball in play, so he made the right call. … That was big.”
Bishop McCort head coach Chris Pfeil wasn’t as agreeable with the call.
“We have to live with the call, but that’s a 10-12 second sequence for the pitcher to take a sign, come set, check the runner back and make a pickoff move,” Pfeil said. “He says he didn’t put the ball back in play. We have to live with that, but I’m not sure why the ball would not be in play. The unfortunate thing about that is that the centerfielder misplayed the ball and we’re probably standing there with a 1-0 lead and a guy on third.
“It’s disappointing, but you have to overcome calls. That’s a big call, but you have to overcome that. We had opportunities in six innings to get a hit to change the complexion of the game. Sometimes, the calls don’t go in your favor and that’s certainly a big one.”
In the fifth with a runner at second and one out, No. 3 hitter Nathan Neiderhiser smoked a hard shot at second baseman Dippold, who knocked the ball down and got the out. With a runner at third and two outs, Schlimm struck out cleanup hitter Alex Sobecky to end the inning.
The final threat from McCort came in the seventh when No. 9 hitter Cameron Rock doubled with one out and advanced to third on Trexler’s flyout to right field. But Schlimm ended it all with a strikeout of Coleman.
“It was frustrating,” Pfeil said of his team’s missed scoring chances. “We just needed to get one more ball in play. We had num opportunities and there’s not a lot you can do. You have to give the kid credit. He made the pitches. They worked us away and we weren’t able to get a bat on it. We tried to talk to the guys, hoping somebody could poke one the other way and get one through.”
Meanwhile, the Crusaders are happy with their one run that got them one win closer to a state title.
“We’re looking forward to Friday. My kids are really excited,” Vogt said.
Scores from games involving District 9 teams.
Last updated 6:45 p.m. 6/9/14.
Elk County Catholic 1, Bishop McCort 0
Souderton 2, DuBois 0