PORTSMOUTH — No matter how much talent is on your roster, winning the Ohio Region V title is anything but an easy task.
After winning its first contest in the tourney back on Sunday, a 9-4 victory over Chillicothe 757, Portsmouth 23 ran into two straight buzzsaws at VA Memorial Stadium — falling to Circleville 134 on Monday by an 11-6 final, and ending its season with a 9-1 loss to Harrison 199, Tuesday.
After plating six runs against Circleville, Portsmouth’s offense scratched out just four hits Tuesday afternoon.
“Harrison is a good team. They threw a kid that’s committed to Akron and he threw the ball really well, keeping us off-balance,” Portsmouth 23 coach Brady Knittel said. “He had a no-hitter through four innings. So he did a great job for them.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Portsmouth also hit a proverbial wall on the mound. After starter Reece Whitley exited the game, 23’s options to replace him were limited.
“I thought Reece threw a good game. He threw strikes and did what we asked him to do,” Knittel said. “We didn’t make a few plays here and there, and [Harrison’s] bats are hot. I thought Reece threw well and, later in the game, walks are contagious. That’s what happened. We hit a wall with pitching after [Whitley] and didn’t have a lot to go with.”
Portsmouth’s only run came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Luke Lindamood drove home Ethan Lauder, who had doubled earlier, with an RBI single.
Harrison scored three in the first, two in the fourth and its final four runs in the fifth to produce the day’s final score.
Lauder led 23’s offense, going 1-for-2 with a walk, a run and a double while Lindamood was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Darius Jordan and Bryce Ponn accounted for the team’s other two hits.
While Portsmouth 23 says goodbye to several players who will lose their legion eligibility after this summer, they’ll also return a core group of contributors including the likes of Whitley, Lindamood, Lauder, Dakota Dodds, Nathan McCormick, Darius Jordan, etc. — should they decide to play again.
“They’re a fun group of kids,” Knittel said. “They came out every single day and put a smile on your face. Whether they were winning or losing, they had a good time.”
When that group, or something that looks similar, does return next year, Knittel’s standards will understandably be higher.
“Next year, we need to have a little more focus. Our biggest problem this year is that we couldn’t finish a full seven-inning game,” Knittel said. “We’d start out slow and finish hot or start out hot and finish slow. If we come in with more focus next year, we’ll be alright.”
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