CHILLICOTHE — If you poll members of the Portsmouth Post 23 American Legion Baseball team, they should simply tell you that their weekend was perfect.
And, indeed on the diamond, it was.
That’s because Post 23, in capturing the championship of the 11th annual Jim Jadwin Memorial Tournament in Chillicothe, went a perfect 5-0 —climaxed by winning Sunday’s title tilt, with a 10-0 fifth-inning mercy-rule decision over Hillsboro.
That’s correct, five up and five down for Post 23 —which raised their summer record to 10-4.
A weekend following a 3-1 tally in the Hillsboro Wooden Bat Tournament, Portsmouth picked up on Friday and Saturday in the Jadwin three pool play games from where it left off — with a narrow 3-1 win over Hillsboro in its opener, but 13-3 and 11-1 respective routs of Circleville and the Central Ohio Knights in its others.
In Sunday’s semifinal, Portsmouth posted a 12-0 shutout of Circleville at VA Memorial Stadium —before Sunday’s championship bout at Chillicothe’s Ross County Park.
This time, Hillsboro Post 129 was never close —as Post 23 scored 10 earned runs on 13 hits and two Hillsboro throwing errors.
For those into counting, Post 23 won its five games by only allowing five total runs —and combined for 49 with its final four games scoring at least 10.
On Sunday, for the final, Post 23 scored four times on five hits and one error in the opening inning —along with a pair of three-run and three-hit third and fourth frames, which included all three hits both innings coming consecutive.
The only extra-base hit for Post 23 was its final of 13 —a one-out two-run double by nine-hole hitter and Portsmouth graduate Daewin Spence.
That made it 10-0, as Jackson’s Bryson Brown completed what he began on the pitcher’s mound —inducing a Hillsboro groundout to first baseman and Wheelersburg’s Landon Hutchinson to end the game.
Sunday’s championship, or even had it been a runner-up, was the first top-two finish for Post 23 in the Jadwin’s decade-long history.
“We knew we just needed to get some at-bats and get kids back on the mound and back in shape. We’re getting there. We were low on numbers with only 12 today, but I thought we played well from the first pitch of the first game (of the tournament),” said Post 23 head coach Josh McGraw. “All the kids went out there and battled and we hit the ball extremely well. Scored a bunch of runs, and even our outs were pretty impressive throughout the tournament. We were low on pitching throughout too, dealing with a couple injuries and vacations and all, but Drew Bragg and Daewin Spence came back off injuries and pitched two complete games for us. Trenton Williams comes in and throws a heckuva ballgame against Hillsboro in game one. He set the tone for the tournament, and our kids fed off that and rallied around him.”
On Sunday, with Williams’ only appearance against Hillsboro this time coming in the team’s final at-bat, the remainder of the dozen-man Post 23 unit took it upon itself to crank out hits and score runs.
Against Austin Barnhill in the first inning, Jackson’s Holden Blankenship singled to left to lead off —followed by a Brock Kitchen bunt single, and Wheelersburg’s Cooper McKenzie getting hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Jackson’s Caeleb McGraw grounded into a 1-2 fielder’s choice, but Rock Hill’s Isaiah Kelly clubbed a two-run single to right combined with a throwing error —as Kitchen and McKenzie crossed home.
Wheelersburg’s Lane Hutchinson had an RBI-groundout to first to plate McGraw, as Kelly came in on a Hunter Thomas RBI-single.
Greenup County’s Kitchen, with a single to center in the second stanza and an RBI-single in the third to make it 7-0, went a perfect 3-of-3 — before Williams hit for him in the fourth.
He also caught back-to-back fly balls for the opening two outs.
The designated hitter McKenzie twice was hit by Barnhill, as he singled in the second to follow Kitchen.
Blankenship, Wheelersburg’s Thomas and Spence all went 2-for-3, as Spence led the way with three RBI and Kelly and Landon Hutchinson scored twice.
Landon Hutchinson, also representing Wheelersburg and also hit once by Barnhill, singled in the first and fourth —with his second single scoring Lane Hutchinson and making it 8-0.
Kelly to lead off the third and later score, and Lane Hutchinson with one out against Hillsboro reliever Kaden Smith in that aforementioned fourth frame, both walked.
“We hit the ball great and we got RBIs from different guys,” said Coach McGraw. “The other guys stepped up and got their chance, even guys in the bottom of the lineup. That was pretty impressive. One thru nine, we hit the ball today.”
Also impressive was Brown, and what he did for Post 23 was fire a complete-game three-hit three-walk shutout with seven strikeouts.
Through his opening 11 batters, he fanned five —and only allowed a Braden Kisling one-out single in the second, prior to Spencer Wyckoff singling and Hunter Burns walking back-to-back with one out in the fourth.
But Kisling smacked a screaming liner to Thomas at third base, who quickly fired to Spence at second — doubling off Wyckoff and ending the inning.
In the fifth, Brown struck out the first two Hillsboro batters —but Noah Allering and Isaiah Curtis walked back-to-back before Ryan Scott singled to load the bases.
However, Brown bounced back —and induced his counterpart Smith to ground out for the championship-clincher.
“Bryson was dominant. From anyone, I knew what we were getting. Fastball was exploding, curveball looked good. It was good to see him out there and finish the game,” said the coach. “He came out there and he earned it today. Whether we scored two or 13 or 10 like this one, we were going to win, because I don’t think he was going to give anything up. Then our defense has been pretty solid all year. We move guys around a lot, but these kids are studs, no matter who we put out there. They do their jobs, they make plays, and they help us win.”
And, win Portsmouth has done the past two tournament weekends — with an 8-1 mark in its last nine.
Of course, that included a blazing five for the 2022 Jim Jadwin Memorial Tournament.
“It was a good weekend to keep us rolling into next week and see if we can keep it going,” said McGraw.
Post 23 returns to the road, and returns to SCOL action, on Tuesday at the Waverly Post 142 Shockers.
First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m., as Waverly won the first meeting between the two 9-2 in Portsmouth two weeks ago.
* * *
Hillsboro 000 000 0 —0 3 2
Portsmouth 403 3X — 10 13 0
Post 129: Austin Barnhill 3IP, 7R, 7ER, 10H, 3HB, 1BB, 0K, 22BF; Kaden Smith 1IP, 3R, 3ER, 3H, 0HB, 1BB, 0K, 7BF
Post 23: Bryson Brown 5IP, 0R, 0ER, 3H, 0HB, 3BB, 7K, 20BF
W — Bryson Brown; L —Austin Barnhill
Hillsboro hitting: Braden Kisling S, Spencer Wyckoff S, Hunter Burns BB, Noah Allering BB, Isaiah Curtis BB, Ryan Scott S
Portsmouth hitting: Holden Blankenship 2-3 RBI; Brock Kitchen 3-3 RBI RS; Cooper McKenzie 1-1 2HBP RS; Caeleb McGraw RS; Isaiah Kelly 1-2 BB 2RBI 2RS; Lane Hutchinson BB RBI RS; Hunter Thomas 2-3 RBI RS; Landon Hutchinson 2-2 HBP RBI 2RS; Daewin Spence 2-3 D 3RBI RS
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved