WELLSTON — The Portsmouth Post 23 Junior Baseball team got its second opportunity at winning over Wellston in as many games.
Unfortunately for the young Blue Jays, Wellston made it a narrow two-for-two on Tuesday evening —and handed the Post 23 Juniors their fourth consecutive defeat.
That’s because host Wellston, with scoring seven consecutive runs on the strength of a pair of three-run innings, withstood a late Post 23 comeback bid — as the Blue Jays dropped an 8-6 decision at Wellston’s venerable Veterans’ Field.
As Post 23 opened its season with a win followed by three losses in the Chillicothe Kickoff Klassic a weekend ago, Wellston —in the placement round —was that final game played on Sunday inside VA Memorial Stadium.
Wellston won that affair 5-4, and led 1-0 after scoring a second-inning run on Tuesday —when Garrett Brown bagged a two-out double down the left-field line to score Gage Downard, who reached on a one-out infield hit.
Post 23 then scored a pair of runs in the third on one wild pitch, but it wasn’t until the seventh inning when it dented the scoreboard again — with four unearned markers after trailing 8-2.
The Blue Jays stranded nine runners, including the bases loaded with one out in the second —followed by two left aboard apiece in innings four, six and seven.
As Zach Wilbur replaced Will Briggs on the pitcher’s mound for Wellston, the Blue Jays drew to within 8-5 on a two-run single by Jakob Tipton, with runners on first and second when Wilbur replaced Briggs.
Wilbur hit Isaiah Kelly with a pitch to load the bases again, and Alex Cassidy crossed on a Lane Hutchinson sacrifice fly for an 8-6 deficit, but Wilbur recorded a strikeout on the third batter he faced to end the game.
While Post 23 played clean baseball for the opening two innings and taking that 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth, Portsmouth made too many mistakes in between — in the form of all seven of its errors in Wellston’s final four at-bats.
Post 23 coach Matt Miller said his Blue Jays had opportunities, offensively and defensively, but didn’t take advantage of them.
“Most definitely,” he said. “We had runners in scoring position, we had runners on base multiple times and didn’t come through. Over the weekend at Chillicothe, we probably only had two errors the whole weekend. We came out here today and make seven errors. I felt like we gave them five of their eight runs. It’s a totally different ballgame if we just field the ball and make the throws a few times. Just the little things. That’s what I was trying to impress upon them.”
The hosts tied it at 2-2 in the fourth following another Downard single and Brown RBI-double to left to score Downard, then three straight Post 23 errors on three straight Wellston at-bats led to two more runs — and a 4-2 deficit that only grew larger against Portsmouth.
The first four runs were against Portsmouth pitcher and Ironton’s Braden Stewart, as Hutchinson allowed one earned run on two hits and two walks in the fifth — followed by Landon Hutchinson giving up three runs on two hits and the seventh and final Post 23 error in the sixth.
Jarrett Wells whacked a two-run double to make it 7-2, as Wellston then scored on the error for Post 371’s eighth and final run.
Brown — in the fifth — singled in Logan Martin to make it 5-2, as Martin singled off Lane Hutchinson to lead off the inning.
Of Wellston’s nine hits, Brown went a perfect 3-of-3 with three runs batted in.
Tipton went 2-of-4 for Post 23 as he also singled to lead off the sixth, while bottom hitter Tristan Belford singled twice and walked once.
In the third, Belford singled to center to lead off and Landon Hutchinson drew a walk, as Cassidy’s sacrifice bunt moved them over a base — and they scored on a singular wild pitch by Martin.
In the last, Preston Krebbs —who singled in the fourth —reached on an error to lead off, then scored after back-to-back singles by Carter Hancock and Belford and a Lane Hutchinson RBI on a fielder’s choice.
Cassidy was hit by a Briggs pitch to load the bases for the second time in the inning, then Tipton tacked on two more runs with his second single — before Briggs was relieved in favor of Wilbur.
Wilbur gained the save, as Briggs worked three and 2/3 innings for Wellston for the win —and even inducing the Blue Jays to hit into double plays in both the fifth and sixth frames.
Martin was Wellston’s starter, retiring the Portsmouth side 1-2-3 in the opening at-bat — before hitting Kelly with a pitch and walking Stewart sandwiched around Lane Hutchinson’s single.
But Martin recorded strikeouts for all three outs in the second, including the final two outs with the bases loaded.
Briggs then stranded Blue Jay runners at first and second in the fourth, and on the corners in the sixth.
The Juniors dropped to 1-5 on Wednesday with an 8-3 defeat at Chillicothe, and return to action this weekend —with home doubleheaders at Wheelersburg High School against Waverly on Saturday (11 a.m.) and Circleville on Sunday (2 p.m.)
With the majority of the Juniors’ roster consisting of sophomores to-be or juniors to-be in the next academic year, getting games in only aids in these younger players’ development.
“We just play games, work harder and get better,” said Miller. “I’m not mad at them, our baseball IQ is young like we are. Just keep working every day and improving on the small things to be better and become successful.”
* * *
Portsmouth 002 000 4 — 6 7 7
Wellston 010 313 X — 8 9 2
Post 23: Braden Stewart 4IP, 4R, 2ER, 5H, 0HB, 1B, 3K, 20BF; Lane Hutchinson 1IP, 1R, 1ER, 2H, 0HB, 2BB, 2K, 7BF; Landon Hutchinson 1IP, 3R, 2ER, 2H, 0HB, 1BB, 1K, 6BF
Wellston: Logan Martin 3IP, 2R, 2ER, 2H, 1HB, 2BB, 4K, 14BF; Will Briggs 3 1/3 IP, 4R, 0ER, 5H, 2HB, 2BB, 2K, 19BF; Zach Wilbur 2/3 IP, 0R, 0ER, 0H, 1HB, 0BB, 1K, 3BF
W — Will Briggs; L — Braden Stewart; S — Zach Wilbur
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved