PORTSMOUTH — Vinnie Lonardo dealt — and indeed did his job well on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for him, and the remainder of the Portsmouth Post 23 Juniors, the weatherman intervened — and did his too.
That’s because, following four restart attempts inside of an hour and 15 minutes, the baseball game between the host Juniors and Jackson Post 81 was deemed suspended — with Post 23 scoring single runs in the third and fourth innings for a 2-0 advantage entering the top of the fifth.
All the Juniors, and relief pitcher Kaleb Seals, had to do was record three outs on Jackson — and the contest would have been considered complete.
Instead, the final restart opportunity at 7:55 p.m. didn’t even make it to the opening Jackson batter, and 20 minutes later, the umpires and coaching staffs decided that the radar didn’t look the least bit promising — especially in the immediate vicinity of Portsmouth High School’s Hatcher Field.
Portsmouth coach Josh McGraw and Jackson coach Cory Camden chose to play another day — agreeing by handshake, or rather fist-bump in this case — to complete the game and add another bout at another time.
Post 23, following an 8-5 nine-inning loss at Waverly on Saturday with a nice 10-2 bounce-back victory at Ashland on Monday, officially remains at 11-7-1.
Jackson, which was the victim of a Juniors’ mercy-rule blanking by a count of 14-0 a week ago, is still at 5-6.
The Juniors —just about — got enough Jackson at-bats in to make the game official after four-and-a-half innings, but the umpires stopped it for what turned out to be the final time with Seals on the mound and Carter Harris in the batter’s box.
All parties — especially the two umpires — indeed tried hard to at least get through four-and-a-half, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“It was tough. I think we came on and off the field for lightning delays four times. I had to take Vinnie (Lonardo) out of the game, because you can’t sit there for an hour and then go back out there and pitch,” said McGraw. “(Kaleb) Seals came on in relief and was ready to go there until the last delay. Sometimes some weird weather pops up during the summer. We didn’t get much rain at all, but the thunder and lightning just wouldn’t go away. The umpires did a good job. They tried to play multiple times, but it got to the point where the kids’ safety had to be looked at. I don’t blame them one bit.”
The final call on Tuesday was made at 7:55 p.m., as the cumulonimbus clouds began billowing, bulging and approaching the area near the 7 p.m. hour.
Finally, right at 7 p.m. and with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, the game was initially stopped at the sight of lightning.
Ten minutes later, the guests re-took the field — only to be immediately asked to come off.
Finally, 35 minutes after the first stoppage, the teams resumed for exactly one minute and two pitches —resulting in Jackson’s Logan Camp collecting his second strikeout.
Ten more minutes elapsed before play resumed a second time, although Post 23 took advantage of the next 10 —scoring its second run.
Daewin Spence singled to center, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third after Blake Stuntebeck drew a walk, and then scored on another Camp wild pitch.
Camp then struck out the final of the 17 batters he faced, as exactly eight minutes went by before inning’s end.
As the two teams took the field for the fifth, the game was briefly stopped for an eye towards the sky —and finally both brought into the dugouts once again by the umpires.
After 20 more minutes, and after discussing a fourth such re-start with only an estimated 30 minutes of daylight remaining, the coaches agreed to try again another day.
While the sun was out at 8:15 p.m., so too were ominous dark clouds hanging over Hatcher Field — with the radar revealing a nasty-looking cell soon swooning over top.
The weather situation soon became the lead story, instead of an excellent pitcher’s duel between Lonardo — the Portsmouth Trojan left-hander — and Camp.
Camp retired the Juniors 1-2-3 in the opening two innings, before facing six batters in the third — when Post 23 broke the scoreless tie.
Hayden Yerardi singled to center to lead off, Camp hit Isaac Kelly with a pitch, and Landon Jones just beat out the throw for an infield hit on a bunt.
With one away, Brock Kitchen brought in Yerardi with a sacrifice fly to left — making it 1-0 as the Juniors did strand two.
Meanwhile, Lonardo lined himself up for the pitching win, striking out three while walking one and only allowing two hits.
He retired six of the first seven hitters he faced, including incurring all three strikeouts, as Harris hammered a double to left before being stranded at third.
Camp helped his cause with a leadoff walk in the next inning, but Lonardo induced a flyout to right —before getting an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
In the fourth, which was Lonardo’s last stanza, he gave up a Zach Bartoe single to left —and then threw away a pickoff throw.
But Bartoe was left stranded at second, as Portsmouth center-fielder Michael Duncan caught back-to-back flyball outs —including the second with a nice sliding catch amid the outfield grass.
“Vinnie did a great job for us. He threw some solid innings. Just a freshman out there on the mound, and he’s going to be a real good one. Their pitcher (Logan Camp) threw a great ballgame and so did Vinnie. That was what baseball should be. Two good lefties on the mound,” said McGraw. “You don’t often see that, but that was pretty fun to watch.”
Hopefully, there will be a classic conclusion to Tuesday’s tilt as well.
Post 23 was scheduled to return to action at Raceland (Ky.) on Wednesday.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved