PORTSMOUTH — Getting out of the cold and into spring time weather by Saturday afternoon made the early-season pitching duel between Portsmouth’s Daewin Spence and Clay’s Shaden Malone quite the sight.
Malone pitched four full innings allowing one earned run, before he was pulled at his pitch count.
The contest was of the non-league variety, of course, and Clay coach Marc Cottle said he wanted to keep Malone’s arm fresh for their upcoming stretch in league play this week.
Spence — a junior at Portsmouth — was not on a pitch count, however, and pitched about as well as you can against a team that will be a strong candidate to repeat as SOC I champions.
Spence led the Trojans from the hill for the second time in as many games, allowing just one hit, one walk, one hit batter, no runs, and striking out 10 to earn the complete game shutout win in seven innings.
The lone hit the junior allowed was on a hard hit ball by Clay senior Clay Cottle at Trojans second baseman Zach Ward, who was unable to make the play after a bad hop sent it into the outfield.
“Daewin had another very impressed start for us against a real nice Clay ball club,” Portsmouth coach Aaron Duncan said, of Spence’s outing. “That team is going to win a lot of games and the Malone kid has next level stuff. Daewin had great command of all four of his pitches today and was also overpowering at times. We made one error, but overall played sound defensively and made the routine plays when we needed them. It definitely had all the makings of being a pitcher’s duel and we knew we had to find a way to manufacture some runs.”
Portsmouth (2-0) posted 10 runs from the third inning on after both teams’ were deadlocked at 0-0 entering the top of the third.
The Trojans found ways to manufacture runs, whether it was taking advantage on the base path of Clay mishaps defensively, or more timely hitting.
Sophomore Tyler Duncan finished 3-of-4 at the plate and drove in two RBI, matching junior Drew Roe for a game-best RBI.
Michael Duncan and Vinnie Lonardo each also had an RBI on one hit apiece.
“Our guys did an excellent job executing small ball and being aggressive and smart on the base paths,” Duncan said. “We had some timely hitting, we put the ball in play, and I think Tyler (Duncan) was excellent at the plate again today. Michael (Duncan) had a sac fly that scored Daewin and Chris (Duff) put a ball in play that scored a run and that seemed to give us some cushion, allowed us to get more aggressive and add to the lead.”
In total, Clay used four pitchers including Malone as the starter for four innings, and Jaden Jessee, Drew Zuefle, and Evan Woods in relief.
The Panthers (3-2) committed three errors in the field but held the Trojans to six hits as a team and managed to extend the contest to a full seven innings.
“Today just wasn’t our day,” Clay coach Marc Cottle said. “We made too many errors and mental mistakes to win a game. Shaden pitched very well but we had him on a pitch count so he would be available Tuesday. I give credit to Portsmouth — they are well-coached and the Spence boy pitched a great game to get the shutout.”
Portsmouth: 0 0 1 1 4 3 1 — 10 6 2
Clay: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 3
W: Spence (P), L: Malone (C)
Portsmouth hitting stats:
Tyler Duncan 3-4, 2RBI
Drew Roe 1-2, 2RBI
Michael Duncan 1-4, RBI
Vinnie Lonardo 1-2, 2 BB, RBI
Chris Duff 0-2, BB, RBI
Zach Ward 0-2, 2 BB, R
Christian Keys 0-2, BB, R
Clay Cottle 1-3
Jaden Jessee 0-2, BB