PORTSMOUTH — Bats on balls — and hits in general — were few and far between at Hatcher Field on Tuesday.
Two of the best pitchers in the Ohio Valley Conference — Portsmouth’s Daewin Spence and Gallia Academy’s Zane Loveday — combined to allow just four hits in the Trojans and Dragons first meeting of the 2022 season.
The senior Spence had the better overall outing — and more importantly, the Trojans (5-1, 3-0 OVC) secured a 2-1 win to remain unbeaten in OVC play.
In seven complete innings, he allowed two hits, no earned runs, issued three walks and punched-out 14 Blue Devils batters.
“Tonight, it was nothing but the fastball. Came into the game with my arm feeling great — best it’s felt all year,” Spence said. “I knew if I sat on the fastball, we were going to be able to pull one out.”
The senior Loveday issued a similar line — allowing two hits and five walks, one earned run accredited while striking out nine in his seven innings on the hill.
“I told the kids today to have a winner’s mentality. This is the best kid we’re going to see in the league, left-handed with a 90-mph fastball and a good curveball,” Portsmouth coach Aaron Duncan said, after the game. “Our guys made the plays during the game that we were able to come through and get us the win.”
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the home half of the third when Vinnie Lonardo led off the inning with a double, then advanced from second to third and third to home on a pair of wild pitches from Loveday.
Gallia Academy tied the game in their next at-bat in the top of the fourth. Two passed balls allowed Gallia Academy’s Mason Smith, who led the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, to tie the game at 1-1.
Portsmouth answered quickly in the fourth. Spence led the inning with a walk — one of five issued by Loveday.
A wild pitch moved Spence into second where he would score when sophomore Reade Pendleton singled to drive in the leadoff runner as they’d take a 2-1 lead — and never look back behind three more scoreless innings by Spence.
“Reade’s arguably our best athlete. Took responsibility in the fourth for the passed balls, so when he’s up in the next inning, there’s no one that wants to come through in that spot more than Reade. He came through and picked up his team at the plate, and behind the plate the rest of the game.”
Entering Wednesday’s meeting with Fairland (4-1, 2-0 OVC), the Trojans are one of three OVC unbeaten teams in the early league schedule.
Portsmouth, Fairland, and Rock Hill (3-1, 1-0 OVC) reside atop the OVC standings — meaning one of the three will take a step back when the Trojans and Dragons conclude their game at Hatcher Field.
“Fairland was the odd’s on favorite to win the league before the win, return 7-8 starters. Our guys bouncing back and winning five-straight after some early adversity, it’s a testament to the leadership of the team,” Duncan said. “We found ourselves losing these type of close games last year — I’d like to think this year we’ve gotten over that hump.”
Gallia Academy 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 1 2 1
Portsmouth 0 0 1 1 0 0 X — 2 2 1
Gallia Academy hitting
Hines 0-2, BB
Smith 0-2, R, BB
Burris 0-2, BB
Drew Roe 0-1, 2BB
Daewin Spence 0-1, R, 2BB
Reade Pendleton 1-3, RBI
Amari Harmon 0-1, BB, HBP
Vinnie Lonardo 1-2, R
Zane Loveday (GA) 6IP, 2H, 1ER, 5BB, 9K (L)
Daewin Spence (P) 7IP, 2H, 0ER, 3BB, 14K (W)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved