From a spectator’s point of view, it’s always an exciting thing to see a team break through.
Over the course of the weekend, Post 23 did exactly that as Portsmouth defeated Hillsboro Post 129 and the Troy Bombers by a combined count of 22-6 in the Hillsboro Wood Bat Tournament to advance to the championship contest against Findlay.
Despite falling in the title contest to Post 3 by a 12-1 tally, the victories have Portsmouth — who had dropped three straight affairs entering pool play — back on the right track as the annual Jim Jadwin Tournament (Chillicothe) draws closer.
Portsmouth 7, Hillsboro 2
Post 23 immediately got the ball rolling on the right track as Portsmouth defeated Hillsboro Post 129 for the third time across three meetings in 2017 behind a 7-2 victory on Friday evening.
Wheelersburg’s Connor Mullins led the standout effort for Post 23 as Mullins threw six innings of six-hit baseball against Post 129 while walking just two batters all game long in an efficient effort. Minford’s Ethan Lauder added a scoreless seventh to seal the deal for Post 23.
“Connor threw the ball extremely well tonight and kept Hillsboro’s hitters off balance,” Post 23 head coach Matt Miller said. We played very well defensively by minimizing our mistakes, and came through offensively by getting the timely hit when we needed it.”
At the plate, Post 23 received a well-balanced effort from its hitting order, with Wheelersburg’s Jaydren Guthrie going 1-for-3 at the plate with two RBI and a run scored.
In addition to Guthrie and Mullins — the latter going 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored — South Webster’s Bradley Gee went a perfect 3-for-3 on the evening, while East’s Drew Lowe (2-for-4, RBI) joined the multi-hit parade. West’s Garrett Hurd, Wheelersburg’s Athan Temponeras, and Valley’s Jared Morrow each added RBI, with Hurd collecting a base hit in the victory.
Greenville 8, Portsmouth 3
Unfortunately, Greenville Post 140 came back with an offensive outburst of its own on Saturday, as Post 140 defeated Post 23, 8-3, on Saturday.
Lauder, who threw six innings of baseball for Post 23, struck out four and only walked one batter on the day, but a dozen Greenville hits, along with some costly errors, hurt Portsmouth in its effort to move to 2-0 on the season.
“Ethan threw the baseball well,” Miller said. “He got tired toward the end, and Greenville added a couple of runs as a result, but overall, he did well. The defense didn’t help at times and they took advantage of our mistakes. We fought to get back in the ballgame, but we didn’t fight all the way back.”
Temponeras led the way by going 1-for-3 at the dish with two RBI, while Lauder (1-for-3, double, RBI), Hurd (1-for-4, run), and Unioto’s Billy Book (1-for-2) joined the Wheelersburg standout in the hit column.
Portsmouth 15, Troy 4 (F/5)
After splitting the first pair of contests with Cambridge and Hillsboro, Post 23 pummeled the traditionally powerful Troy Bombers by using an astounding 18 hits to pummel Troy by a 15-4 tally.
In addition to the strong offensive efforts, it helped that Guthrie was as solid as a rock on the hill. The Wheelersburg standout threw five innings of effective baseball, and, even after allowing nine hits and walking a trio of batters, kept his poise by picking off three Bombers to severely limit Troy on the basepaths.
“Jaydren threw well,” Post 23 head coach Matt Miller said. “He stayed around the zone and made them put it in play. He also picked off three base runners, which limited the running game.”
Guthrie, who recorded a base knock, drew two walks, and added three runs from the back of the order, was aided by a fantastic performance throughout the Post 23 lineup. Hurd led the charge with a simply excellent performance as the junior-to-be collected a game-high six RBI on a massive day at the plate, with Hurd going 3-for-4 with three doubles in all.
Temponeras, Mullins, and Gee proved to be vital in their own right as the trio combined to go an astonishing 10-for-10 at the plate with a triple, three doubles, and six additional RBI. Lauder (2-for-4, double, RBI), Book (1-for-2, RBI), and Lowe (1-for-3, RBI) rounded out the strong performance from the Post 23 outfit.
“Offensively, we started a little slow,” Miller said. “However, what really got us going was when Jared Morrow laid down a sacrifice bunt to move a runner over when we were down 3-2 in the second inning. After that, the bats woke up and we started squaring it up. That simple fundamental play ignited us and we just took off from there.”
Game 4 — Hillsboro Wood Bat Championship Game
Findlay 12, Portsmouth 1 (F/5)
Unfortunately, Post 23 wasn’t able to capture a championship in the Wood Bat Tournament, as Portsmouth fell to Findlay Post 3 by a 12-1 mark in five innings.
Despite Findlay’s work at the dish, Trey Carter and Evan Dahm kept battling. Carter and Dahm, a pair of Wheelersburg hands who have shown an immense amount of promise and potential, collected three strikeouts on the day.
“Trey didn’t have his best stuff today, but continued to battle,” Miller said. “He just got himself in some bad situations that we couldn’t get out of against a good team. I know he will rebound and be better the next time. Evan came in and threw the ball well for 2 innings. we made some mistakes behind him, but he threw well.”
Carter and Lowe collected the lone pair of hits for Portsmouth in the contest, with the pair each going 1-for-2 on the evening. The former collected the game’s lone RBI
“Offensively, we just weren’t able to get anything going,” Miller said. “We hit some balls hard, but couldn’t get them to drop. I’m proud of the way the boys played this weekend. We have been struggling coming into this tourney, but to come out and battle the way we did, I’m proud of that. We deserved to be playing for the title.”
Circleville 8, Portsmouth 0
With Post 23 back in full-slated SCOL action on Monday, Portsmouth wasn’t able to continue the momentum established in the Hillsboro Wood Bat Tournament as Post 23 fell to Circleville Post 134 by an 8-0 tally in Circleville Monday evening.
Hurd, along with Green’s Tanner Kimbler, combined for a solid outing on the hill as the pair allowed just six hits over six innings. However, costly errors turned a 1-0 contest in the fourth inning into an 8-0 affair when all was said and done.
“Garrett and Tanner both threw the ball well,” Miller said. They stayed in the zone and made Circleville put the ball in play. It was a 1-0 game in the fourth inning, and a couple of mistakes allowed them to add three runs. Then in the sixth inning, the same thing happened and we allowed them to add four more. We have to eliminate the mistakes because that was a much closer game then the final score indicates. We have to get more consistent in the field and at the plate to continue to get better and improve our chances to win.”
Offensively, Mullins led the team at the plate with his 2-for-3 output. Temponeras and Kimbler went 1-for-2 at the dish, while Lauder and Gee went 1-for-3 with the bats.
Post 23, who sits at 5-8 on the year, played Waverly on Tuesday evening. They’ll begin play in the Jim Jadwin Memorial Tournament on Thursday in Chillicothe.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7