The three-time reigning 9th Region baseball champ Beechwood Tigers input eighth grader Tyler Fryman into the lineup about a third of the way through the season and the 14-year-old hasn’t disappointed since.
Fryman drove in two important runs on Sunday to open the 9th Region tournament at Thomas More Stadium in Florence, the Tigers topping Ryle 6-4 to move onto Monday’s semifinals.
Fryman delivered two sacrifice fly RBI, one in the fifth inning, another in the seventh to give them an insurance run. Initially in both at-bats, Fryman was asked to bunt to try and bring in Cameron Boyd from third both times. After failing to do so and facing two-strike counts, Fryman hit fly balls to centerfield, deep enough to bring Boyd home.
“I was just looking to put it in play and score Cam,” Fryman said. “Two runs is pretty big in a game like this.”
Fryman, who initially was a pinch-runner and position played some centerfield, was inserted into the lineup on April 8, 10 games into the season and has been a mainstay since.
“We put him in there and he’s done everything we’ve asked and done nothing to take him out. He has so much range out there in centerfield too,” Tigers coach Kevin Gray said.
The Tigers can also point to Ben Meier, a veteran compared to Fryman, the senior shortstop a five-year member of the three-time reigning champs. Meier knocked a double, run scoring triple and crossed home plate three times. Meier has the luxury in the lineup of hitting after Cameron Boyd and before Fryman.
“It makes things easy on me. You’ve seen Cam get on base nearly every time, you’ve seen his batting average, just have to do your job and these guys behind me will get me in. Really makes it easy on me,” Meier said.
The early jitters were certainly there, especially for a 10 a.m., Sunday morning start. Ryle loaded the bases with no out with the first, but Matthew Kappes limited the damage allowing just an RBI groundout off the bat of Roman Furuta as the Raiders struck first.
“You’ve got bases loaded and no outs, you’ve got to get more than one run. You got to pile on early when you can,” Raiders coach Joe Aylor said. “If we put even three runs up there it puts a little pressure on them and makes them make different decisions. Just jumped on some pitches that we shouldn’t have jumped on.”
Without a hit in the second, Beechwood plated two runs as they drew three walks, were hit by a pitch and benefitted from a Raiders error to take the lead.
Raiders ace Dylan McIntyre issued the four walks and the hit batter. He had just seven walks issued in his last 25 innings coming in. He lasted three innings.
“Dylan was just amped. He’s just a sophomore and this was a big spot for him. This is a huge growing point for him and he’s still going to be our guy the next two years,” Aylor said.
The Tigers added a run in the third, Ben Meier with a one-out double followed by a Shawn Sowder two-out single to make it 3-1 Beechwood.
Beechwood added two more in the fifth, Ben Meier’s RBI triple followed by a Tyler Fryman sac fly RBI to make it 5-1.
Ryle got right back in the game with a three-run bottom half of the fifth, collecting four hits and finally getting a pair of timely hits as Caleb Mann delivered a two-run single followed by an RBI single from Josh Caudill, making things 5-4.
Beechwood flashed the leather throughout, a couple of sliding grabs from Nazario Pangallo in left field, Kappes catching a comebacker with a quick reaction and Boyd snagging a few in right. The biggest snag came in the bottom of the sixth perhaps with Tate Cordrey on second representing the tying run and Keegan Flaherty at the plate, Flaherty hit a line drive to Meier at short who caught it and left Cordrey in no-man’s land as he was doubled off second to end the inning.
“If a team comes out and outhits you and beats you, then you shake their hand and wish them well. We really stress defense and pitching all year long, we’ve been pretty solid defensively throughout the year,” Gray said.
Fryman’s second sac fly RBI gave the Tigers an insurance run in the seventh as Chase Flaherty closed the door in the bottom half, going 2.2 innings and not allowing an earned run. Kappes lasted 4.1 innings to start for the Tigers, allowing seven hits, four earned runs, striking out three and walking one. The two did not go over 75 pitches, meaning the top two pitching options for the Tigers will be available on Wednesday if they make the championship game.
Early on, that may not have been the case if Kappes didn’t get out of the first with limited damage.
“When I went out there in the first I let him know he was on a short leash. We already had Flaherty down there. They all know this time of year, you can’t mess around. Thank God he bounced back because after that he threw great,” Gray said. “Both are eligible for Wednesday, but we had to win this one to get to tomorrow.”
Ryle outhit the Tigers in the contest, 9-7, but left eight runners on base to Beechwood’s six. Their season ends at 25-11, the most wins in a season since 2016 and Ryle winning their first district title this season since 2019.
“We talk every year about moving the needle. We’re keeping momentum going and taking a step forward each year. Had 18 or 19 wins the last two years, win 25 games and district champs this year. We’re headed in the right direction,” Aylor said.
Flaherty led the Raiders with three hits, Cordrey and Mann with two. Mann pitched the final four innings, allowing five hits, three earned runs while striking out four and hitting a batter.
Meier’s two hits paced the Tigers.
BEECHWOOD — 021-020-1 — 6-7-1
RYLE — 100-030-0 — 4-9-1
2B — (B) Meier, Boyd
3B — (B) Meier
WP — Flaherty. LP — McIntyre.
Records: Beechwood 25-8, Ryle 25-11