PORTSMOUTH — Better late than never.
The persistent Portsmouth Trojans managed to chip, chip, and chip away at visiting Northwest’s lead in Wednesday’s Division III sectional semifinal contest all the way till the lead was ultimately theirs.
A walk off ball in play by Portsmouh freshman Zach Roth gave the Trojans their first lead at 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh after the Trojans trailed by as many as four runs through the first 2.5 innings.
The victory is Portsmouth baseball’s first triumph in the postseason since 2011 when they reached the Division III district finals.
It is also the first postseason win under first-year head coach Aaron Duncan who gave credit to his players for taking away Northwest’s lead one run at a time.
“Hats off to Northwest for some timely hitting and solid base running to put them in that position versus Daewin (Spence). Also have to give a lot of credit to our kids for continuing to battle against a very good pitcher and chipping away at that lead as the innings wore on,” Duncan said. “We had some quality at-bats down the stretch and found some ways to get on base and make some things happen with our speed.”
The Trojans tied things up in the sixth with two outs at 5-5 when Reade Pendleton reached on an error and advanced on a single by Drew Roe then scored from first on a proceeding error.
RBI singles by Dakota Secrest and Levi Tackett gave the Mohawks a 4-1 lead in the top of the third before Austin Alley scored on a passed ball after reaching via error.
Neither starting pitcher of Portsmouth’s Daewin Spence and Northwest’s Dakota Secrest were handed a decision, but instead those went to Tyler Duncan and Kazane Akimoto who entered in relief.
Duncan was the winning pitcher, entering in the top of the fourth and holding Northwest scoreless in his time on the mound and to just three hits.
Akimoto allowed three hits and one earned run in his two innings of work and was credited with the loss despite leaving with no outs in the seventh.
“Tyler (Duncan) took over for Daewin (Spence) in the 4th and didn’t allow a Mohawk run,” Duncan said. “He did an excellent job keeping their hitters off balance and holding Northwest at bay so we could mount our come from behind victory.”
Spence threw just 69 pitches in his start that last three full innings, meaning he’ll be available for Saturday’s sectional championship game against OVC foe and No. 7-seed Rock Hill.
The Redmen swept the season series with the Trojans, winning 7-3 and 6-4 in Portsmouth and Pedro, respectively.
This time around, Duncan is hoping to see a complete game from his Trojans in their push for a sectional crown.
“Rock Hill has managed to come from behind in the latter innings to beat us the two previous times this season. We have jumped out early on them both games, and then fizzled down the stretch. We have to find a way to not get complacent and continue to tack on runs every inning if we get up on them early.” Duncan said. “We have to eliminate errors on routine balls down the home stretch and be able to finish the game and compete for all 7 innings in order for us to have the outcome we are hoping for come Saturday.”
A win would put the No. 10-seed Trojans into the district semifinals where they’d face the winner of No. 2-seed Wheelersburg and No. 15-seed Crooksville.
First pitch from Pedro is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 22,
Northwest: 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 — 5 7 2
Portsmouth: 1 0 2 0 1 1 1 — 6 8 2
W: Duncan (P), L: Akimoto (NW)
Zach Ward 0-3, RBI, BB
Drew Roe 2-3, 3R, RBI, BB
Daewin Spence 2-2, 2R, RBI, BB
Tyler Duncan 1-4
Hayden Yerardi 1-4, RBI
Zach Roth 1-3, RBI
Michael Duncan 0-3, BB
Reade Pendleton 1-3, R
Kazane Akimoto 1-4
Kaleb Seals 0-2, 2R, 2BB
Dakota Secrest 2-3, R, RBI, BB
Orville Tackett 1-3, R, RBI
Austin Alley 1-3, R
Levi Tackett 2-3, RBI
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved