PORTSMOUTH — If Tuesday’s result was a glimpse of what the Portsmouth Trojan baseball program can be in the immediate, this spring has the potential to be full of ups rather than downs.
In their return to game action for the first time since the end of the 2019 postseason, the Trojans defended Hatcher Field with promise — defeating visiting Oak Hill 14-3 in five innings and earning the first win of head coach Aaron Duncan’s varsity baseball coaching career.
Duncan, who was hired in 2019 following the departure of former Trojan skipper Josh McGraw to Jackson High School, said afterwards the result was much to do with his player’s hard work put in since their last OHSAA game nearly two years ago.
“I joked with some people after the game that we waited two years to get that first game under our belt, and now we have nowhere but down to go from here,” Duncan said. “These kids have worked their hind-ends off for two years, and they’re just now getting to see the fruits of their labor with this victory. I couldn’t be happier.”
Portsmouth led the Oaks 14-0 entering the top half of the fifth, needing just three outs to end the contest with junior ace Daewin Spence allowing just one hit in his first four innings.
A bases-clearing two-out double by Oak Hill shortstop Rylan Sams which went over center fielder Drew Roe’s head put his team in possible position to extend things to a full seven innings, but a game-ending strikeout sealed the Oaks’ fate in five.
Spence was money in his first appearance of the season, allowing just three hits, walking two, and striking out seven in 71 pitches.
The junior also jump-started Portsmouth’s offensive explosion with a two-run home run in the home half of the first in his first appearance at the plate this season after sophomore Tyler Duncan reached via error.
“Kudos to Daewin. He’s a kid that plays summer ball, wants to play college baseball, and that’s how he approaches practice,” Duncan said. “Having someone like him at the hill and then what he did at the plate, that’s a direct reflection of the hard work he’s put in.”
RBI singles by Zach Ward and Vinnie Lonardo kept the Trojans’ offense going in the first where they put up a game-high five runs and batted-around their lineup.
The youngest Duncan on Portsmouth’s roster, Tyler, drove in Drew Roe after Roe led off the second with a triple up the left field line.
Older brother Michael drove in younger brother Tyler in the second to keep things going, just before Christian Keys had a two-RBI single to make it 9-0 Trojans through two innings.
Portsmouth capitalized off Oak Hill’s seven errors, mainly fielding and throwing mis-haps that resulted in late-inning runs. Despite having just one RBI in the final two innings, Portsmouth’s base-running allowed them to post a combined five runs in the third and fourth frames.
“We’ve got kids that kids that can run. My team’s philosophy when I played here was that anyone can catch a fly ball. Hit the ball on the ground, get runners on base, move them over and get them in,” Duncan said. “When we get on base, we have the speed.”
Tyler Duncan and Ward were both perfect at the plate in Tuesday’s season opener, combining for 5-of-5 hitting, three RBI, and three runs scored.
As good as the Portsmouth bats looked on Tuesday, Duncan says his team will continue their work in the hitting cages at Hatcher Field.
The Trojans are slated to travel to Western on Thursday and Clay on Saturday before beginning their Ohio Valley Conference schedule on Monday (April 5) against Chesapeake.
“We’ve got to continue hitting. Our bats were working tonight, we’ve got to get back in the cage and do what we do with our hitting drills. Weather permitting, it looks like it might be a little cold,” Duncan said. “If it doesn’t rain, we’ll put on some warm clothes and go play because we’re eager to get some games in.”
Oak Hill: 0 0 0 0 3 — 3 3 7
Portsmouth: 5 4 1 4 X — 14 11 0
W: Spence (P), L: Hines (OH)
Roe: 1-2, 3R
T. Duncan: 3-3, 2 RBI, 2R
Spence: 2-3, 2-run HR, R
Yerardi: 0-2, BB, HBP, R
M. Duncan: 0-1 RBI, HBP, 2R
Z. Ward: 2-2, RBI, 3R
Keys: 1-2, 2RBI, R
Lonardo: 1-3, RBI
Chris Duff: 1-3, R
Oak Hill hitting
Landon Hines 1-1, R
Rylan Sams 1-3, 3RBI
Aidan Hall 1-2
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved