PORTSMOUTH — Clay and Green — the two-defending Southern Ohio Conference Division I champions from the 2019 season — met for the first time as defending league champs on Friday.
Both the Bobcats and Panthers opened up their 12-game SOC I slate with one another — and will face each other again in Franklin Furnace to begin the second round of league play on April 16.
The newest renewal in their rivalry saw Clay (3-1) a 15-0 winner and was less dramatic than their two previous meetings in 2019, both of which ended in walk-off fashion.
Scoring a game-high five runs in the first frame and having senior starting pitcher Clay Cottle face just four more batters than the minimum in a shutout, five-inning win, the Panthers began their league title defense with resounding success.
“Really proud of our hitters today with Shaden (Malone), Evan (Woods), and Mitch (King) leading us on the offensive side,” Marc Cottle, Clay coach, said after the game. “Clay (Cottle) pounded the strike zone and got the shutout. I tell our kids if we can walk two or less and have two or less errors, we’ll compete in most games.”
Cottle surrendered hits to Green (0-4) seniors Levi Singleton and Dustin Sprouse and walked Nathaniel Brannigan as the Bobcats’ lone base runners, apart from a lone error committed in the top of the fourth inning.
In 64 pitches, Cottle’s final stat line read two hits allowed, one walk, and eight strikeouts.
Panther senior Jaden Jessee drove in a season-high four RBI on one-of-two hitting with a walk, while Evan Woods, Mitchell King, and Greg Gleason each had two RBI.
Woods finished 3-of-4 at the plate while fellow senior Shaden Malone was a perfect 3-of-3 with a walk, including a leadoff triple to begin the Panthers’ home half of the second inning.
Malone’s triple was followed by an RBI triple by Cottle for his lone hit, additionally drawing three walks in the victory.
Green: 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 2
Clay: 5 2 4 4 X — 15 13 1
Pitching: W: Clay Cottle (C), L: Levi Singleton (G)
Shaden Malone 3-3, 4 R, BB
Clay Cottle 1-1, 4 R, RBI, 3 BB
Jaden Jessee 1-2, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB
Evan Woods 3-4, R, 2 RBI
Carson Porginski 1-3, R, RBI
Mitchell King 3-4, R, 2 RBI
Drew Zuefle 0-1, RBI, BB
Noah Wright 0-3, BB
Evan Balestra 1-3, R
Carson Holschuh 0-0, R
Levi Singleton 1-3
Dustin Sprouse 1-2
Nathaniel Brannigan 0-1, BB
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved