RUSSELL, Ky. — As a talented student-athlete hailing from the 16th Region in the Bluegrass State, Greenup County’s Kyle Gammon has always been highly regarded as a talented middle infielder who brings a live bat to the table.
On Thursday afternoon, Gammon — in his first start with the Portsmouth Post 23 baseball program — lived up to that reputation and then some.
The three-time 16th Region Champion, who hit from the cleanup spot for Post 23 on Thursday, certainly produced in a manner that would make the vast majority of cleanup hitters proud as the Shawnee State signee belted a two-out home run over the left center field fence, drove in a third runner during his second plate appearance via a sacrifice fly and launched a single to left field to add a fourth RBI en route to a monster game at the dish.
In the field, the senior was also tremendous as Gammon helped turn two 1-6-3 double plays for a defensive unit that committed just one error all game, which was big in a 10-4 victory over the Huntington (W. Va.) Hounds’ 16U travel ball program that allowed Post 23 to move to 2-0 on the afternoon in pool play.
However, as impressive as the overall fielding was, it was Portsmouth’s continued execution at the plate — to a tune of 10 hits in the final pool play game for Post 23 on Thursday — that had Matt Miller pleased.
“I’m definitely happy with the way that we swung the bat (on Thursday),” Miller said. “I’ve been giddy, because I know what we are capable of. Last week was last week. We hit the ball and things just didn’t go our way, but I was really looking forward to seeing how everybody would perform once we did get everybody back, and once we got into the swing of things, what our potential could be. We showed it (on Thursday).”
Tanner Kimbler, who himself was electric throughout the day on Thursday, started off the bottom half of the first frame by notching a single to right field, but from there, it looked like the inning would be of a quiet variety as Brayden Davis and Cole Dyer went down in order.
That is, however, before Gammon made his introduction to the starting lineup a very loud one. With two down in the frame, Gammon turned on a Keegan Snyder pitch and crushed the baseball well over the left center field fence by a good 30 feet as the senior’s two-run homer put Post 23 out in front by a 2-0 margin after the opening inning of action.
When a pair of walks by Grant Harris and Brady Doyle, along with an RBI base knock from Austin Darling, allowed Huntington to close within a 2-1 tally, Post 23 proceeded to answer by turning up the heat in the third and fourth frames as Dyer’s double to left field, along with a passed ball, allowed Gammon to drive Dyer in with the aforementioned sacrifice fly.
Later on in the frame, and with the bases loaded, Jarrett Stamper continued the two-out magic for Post 23 as the junior-to-be’s RBI single to left — which followed a Seth Nichols walk and a Jared Morrow single to the same spot — scored Will Darling as the margin moved to 4-1 in favor of Portsmouth.
The inning, however, paled in comparison to Post 23’s fourth frame.
In the inning, Davis, after a leadoff walk, got the ball rolling with a stolen base, and after advancing to third base on a flyout to right field by Dyer, scored on Gammon’s single to left field. From there, four walks, three errors, and a wild pitch allowed Post 23 to manufacture the additional five runs via station-to-station baseball as Portsmouth took a 10-1 advantage after four innings of play by the conclusion of the fourth frame.
“I was very happy with the way that we played,” Miller said. “Whether it was from a pitching standpoint, a fielding perspective, or from the hitting side of things, we played well in all phases. We did the things that we needed to do in order to keep going forward.”
The play of a deep middle infield, which includes guys like Gammon, Kimbler, Ashkettle, and Darling, among others, certainly hasn’t hurt, either, and it didn’t on Thursday afternoon.
The former, who had already turned a 1-6-3 double play in the second inning, proved to be huge for Ashkettle, who came on to pitch in relief for Darling after the fifth frame, as Gammon caught a throw from Ashkettle following the latter’s fielding of a comebacker, fielded the ball cleanly, and survived a hard slide by Brady Doyle to record another 1-6-3 double play after Doyle’s slide knocked Gammon off-balance. The seventh-inning double play arguably kept the Hounds, who put four baserunners on in the inning, from making a late charge as Post 23 kept the game well under wraps.
“I’ve got six, seven guys that I can stick in the infield,” Miller said. “The second game there, I was able to say, ‘Hey Tanner, go play center field. The option of having him there, or Jared (Morrow), Kyle (Gammon), Will (Darling), or Jake (Ashkettle) is excellent. We’ve got all these options in the middle of our infield, which allows us to be strong in that area.”
With the victory on Thursday afternoon, Post 23 concluded the day by going 2-0 in pool play. They’ll play at Russell again on Friday as Post 23 takes on the homestanding Red Devils at 12 p.m. before concluding pool play against the Ohio Force 16U program at 3 p.m.
“It’s definitely a good start for us,” Miller said. “After last night (against Waverly Post 142 in an affair that ended up being rain-delayed) and the intensity of that game, it was good to have some fun, play hard, and play well.”