RACELAND, Ky. — In arguably one of their best baseball outings of the entire summer, the Portsmouth Post 23 Juniors crossed the Ohio River — and captured a quality 5-1 victory at Raceland on Wednesday.
The win raised the Juniors’ record to 12-7-1, as Post 23’s tilt against visiting Jackson on Tuesday was officially suspended in the top of the fifth inning — with the Juniors leading 2-0 when the contest was stopped before it was considered completed.
At Raceland, the Juniors jumped on the Kentuckians early with a first-inning run, then tacked on two more markers in the third —before finally making it 5-1 with two more points in the seventh.
Raceland got an unearned run in the second for the 1-1 tie, but Post 23’s four unanswered to end it was more than enough support for starting pitcher Daewin Spence and the remainder of the Juniors’ defense.
The ace and Portsmouth High standout Spence, who entered the outing with a .47 earned run average, struck out four and only allowed three hits in pitching the opening six innings.
He walked the first batter he faced, but then retired Raceland’s next three hitters — as he also saw the minimum three in the third, with the Juniors turning the always-challenging 6-3-5 double play.
His only other walk was in the second —the same inning he allowed two singles and Raceland’s run that also combined an error, a stolen base, and a sacrifice bunt.
Spence faced four batters apiece in the first and fifth frames, and retired the side 1-2-3 in the fourth and sixth — including two strikeouts in the fourth.
He also escaped a couple of early jams —including the initial Raceland batter who walked, stole second and advanced to third on an error.
Spence stranded him there, then left the bases loaded in the second following allowing the two singles sandwiched around a walk.
Rodney Moore from Portsmouth West was Wednesday’s closer, tossing the seventh and collecting one walk, one hit and one strikeout.
Raceland knocked on the door with runners on first and second with two outs and a full count on the two-hole hitter, but Post 23 catcher Caeleb McGraw threw behind the leading runner at second for the pickoff to end the game.
Once again, pitching and defense did the Juniors’ job.
“Daewin (Spence) was dominant on the mound again. Raceland was a good ballclub that pitched well and they kind of slowed our bats down a bit, but Daewin pitched a little better and we got great outfield play,” said Post 23 coach Josh McGraw. “Jacob Sloan, Hayden Yerardi, Isaiah Kelly and Michael Duncan were fantastic out there.”
Offensively, the Juniors managed five hits, including two from leadoff man Brock Kitchen.
Kitchen singled to lead off the game, then scored on an RBI-groundout by Kaleb Seals.
After a 1-2-3 second stanza, Post 23 got two more runs with two outs in the third—as Isaiah Kelly and Landon Jones drew leadoff walks and scored on the combination of a Seals single, Moore being hit by a pitch and Spence walking.
Kelly walked again in the fourth, Kitchen singled again in the fifth, and Jacob Sloan singled in the sixth, but the Juniors finally made it 5-1 in the last.
Hayden Yerardi reached on an error to lead off and Kelly immediately followed with another walk, before Jones laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners over.
Once again with two outs, the Juniors struck the scoreboard, as McGraw —who had lined out hard three times prior — got an infield hit to cross Yerardi.
Kelly then raced home on a wild pitch, allowing Moore to work with a 5-1 advantage and end the game.
Portsmouth’s doubleheader at Hillsboro on Saturday was cancelled, as the Juniors were scheduled to return home —and host another doubleheader —against Chillicothe 757 on Sunday.
The Juniors and Raceland are set for a return duel at Portsmouth High School’s Hatcher Field on Tuesday.
First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.
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