PIKETON — After a rocky start at Shawnee State this past spring, Marty Knittel settled into a groove.
Over his last 9 ⅓ innings pitched, the freshman pitcher allowed just three earned runs while striking out nine hitters. This summer, playing for Portsmouth Post 23 (3-1), Knittel has picked up where he left off at SSU.
Take his masterful pitching performance on Tuesday evening as Exhibit A to prove that statement true. In a 1-0 win over Waverly Post 142, Knittel tossed seven innings, allowed no earned runs on just five hits and struck out four while giving the Shockers’ offense a night off.
“The goal was to come in there and get ahead early in counts,” Portsmouth 23 coach Brady Knittel [Marty’s older brother] said. “That’s what [Marty] did today. He threw all three pitches for a strike and that’s going to keep a good hitting team off-balance. He established that early and stayed ahead.”
Marty Knittel was also partly responsible for Portsmouth’s lone run. In the top of the fourth, he singled before giving way to a courtesy runner — Brice Robnett — who later scored on a passed ball to produce the game’s final.
That one run was all Knittel needed to win a ballgame, which had something to do with his defense playing error-free behind him.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Shockers (2-2) showed signs of life, logging back-to-back two-out hits. But Knittel’s defense was there to back him up, as it had been all evening, when Bryce Ponn fielded a grounder cleanly and tossed it over to Dakota Dodds at first base.
“The defense, as a whole, played phenomenal. We didn’t have any errors, we knocked every ball down and we made every play that we needed to,” Brady Knittel said. “That’s especially true in that last inning when  was threatening to score. We made plays.”
Despite Tuesday’s low scoring final, Brady Knittel said he’s happy with how his team has swung the bat to begin the summer.
“We’re seeing the ball well at the plate, trying to put the ball in play and apply pressure,” Brady Knittel said. “That’s what we talked about before that inning where we scored our run … applying pressure on the defense. That’s what we’ve done so far this summer.”
Knittel finished 2-for-3 at the dish while Seth Nichols accounted for 23’s only other hit.
For 142, Tanner Cunningham took the tough-luck loss after throwing four innings of two-hit baseball. He was 1-for-3 at the plate while Kannon Pack, Tucker Tackett, Derek Eblin and Scott Lightle all had a hit apiece.
Both teams will be back in action Friday in Hillsboro in Post 129’s annual Wood Bat tournament.
“It’s a tournament and we’re guaranteed at least four games, so we’re going to get a lot of guys playing time,” Brady Knittel said. “That’s what it’s all about, getting guys innings and making sure they’re bettering themselves. Pitch, play catch and hit the ball.”
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