An offensive explosion is what Portsmouth Post 23 needed to start strong in their first game of the day against Chillicothe Post 62. Prior to the game, Head Coach Matt Miller said, “the biggest thing is to come out ready to play, to be excited to be here, and be ready to move on”. The top of the first was exactly the start Miller was hoping for, amassing five runs on the backs of two two-out, two-RBI doubles by Jesse Jones and Seth Nichols. Reid Shultz drove in the other run, elevating Post 23 to a 5-0 lead early in the game.
Post 62 returned the favor, however, in the bottom of the second inning. After a couple of fielding errors from Portsmouth and solid hitting, Post 62 scored eight runs in the bottom of the second, giving them the lead 8-5.
The score remained the same until the Post 23 bats came alive once again in the top of the fifth. The scoring began with another Seth Nichols RBI, and the offensive production didn’t stop there for Portsmouth. Jared Morrow and Cole Dyer each earned one and two RBI respectively. Their consistent hitting resulted in another five-run inning, Post 23’s second such inning of the game. “We created a lot of energy in the first inning, we struggled defensively in that second inning, I told them to keep plugging away” said Miller “They fought back, turned the game around and never gave up”.
Portsmouth’s pitching and defense settled down immensely once Isaiah Greene took the mound in the third inning. Greene, who did not play in the team’s opening game of the Region Five tournament, did not miss a beat. Giving up only one earned run the rest of the game, Greene was in control till the last out was recorded. “Jakeb (Ashkettle) wasn’t throwing the ball bad, they started to hit him a little and we made some errors behind him” said Miller, “I thought it was time to change tempo with Isaiah. He came in and threw strikes all game”. Greene also helped turn a one-two-three double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning. The only mark on his pitching performance was a two out double by Jeremy Brooks that came in the bottom of the sixth. That hit drove in a Post 62 run, bringing the score to 10-9 in favor of Post 23.
The top of the seventh provided some extra fireworks for Portsmouth as Ethan Lauder drove in teammates Cole Dyer and Tyler Speas with a double that sailed over the head of the Post 62 right fielder. Another run scored for Post 23 in that half inning gave them a 13-9 lead, which they would hold until the final out in the bottom of the seventh. Post 23 had a very quick turnaround, as they went on to face Hillsboro Post 129 in the second game of their double header on the day.
Portsmouth Post 23 lost their last game of the season in game seven of the Region Five Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe to Hillsboro Post 129 with a final score of 7-5. Post 23 started off their second game of the day just as they had the first: offense. Ethan Lauder hit a single to right field that drove in leadoff hitter Brayden Davis, giving them a lead of 1-0 after the top of the first. Post 129 answered rather quickly, however, after a single drove in two runs in the bottom of the first. The single gave Post 129 the 2-1 lead heading into the second inning.
Portsmouth was in excellent shape to start off the top of the second inning. Two errors by the Hillsboro shortstop allowed Jakeb Ashkettle and Jared Morrow to reach base safely. Post 129’s pitcher then walked Jarrett Stamper, loading the bases for Post 23 with nobody out. The potential was there for another explosive offensive inning like they had in the previous game. What the Portsmouth bats didn’t account for were two excellent defensive plays from Post 129 third baseman Mason Stanley. Leadoff hitter and centerfielder Brayden Davis for Post 23 lined out to Stanley, who then turned the line-out into a five-three double play. The very next play Stanley made a great catch to end the inning, and the golden opportunity for Portsmouth had ended just as quick as it had started. Post 23 tied the game 2-2 in the top of the third inning thanks to a Jesse Jones standup double that scored third baseman Cole Dyer.
Post 129 recaptured their lead in the next half inning after an error by right fielder Jared Morrow. They then extended their lead to 4-2 after a sac fly hit to the outfield. Hillsboro tacked on 3 more runs in the bottom of the fourth, ending their offensive production for the game and extending their lead to 7-2.
In the top of the fifth, Post 23 pitcher Jesse Jones hit a triple into the right center gap, driving in Ethan Lauder all the way from first base. Ashkettle was then able to hit a sac fly to bring in Jones, cutting the Hillsboro lead to 7-4. For Portsmouth to make a push to win the game, they needed Jones to be an ace over the last two or three innings, and he answered the call. “I got somebody loose just in case” Miller said, “But I went to Jesse (Jones) and asked how he was feeling, and he told me he was feeling fine. I knew even if he wasn’t 100%, he was going to give me everything he had out there. I kept faith in him, and he kept pounding the zone and throwing strikes, and he battled like he has all year”. Jones gave up zero earned runs over the last two innings, setting up his offense for a chance to finish the comeback.
After a three up, three down top half of the sixth, the game came down to the top of the seventh inning for Post 23. Portsmouth was able to tack on another run in the seventh, but ultimately was not able to complete the comeback. When asked of his level of pride for his team and their fight over the three games they played in this tournament, Miller said, “I’m absolutely proud. No matter the situation, all three games we kept fighting and kept battling, the last game here just didn’t go our way”. Post 23 finishes their season with a record of 13-16, and fourth place in the Region Five Tournament.
Reach Jacob Smith at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930