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Paul Boggs: Trojans top Fighting Tigers

Apr. 26—Previous

Portsmouth sophomore Trevin Brooks (5)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

Portsmouth sophomore shortstop Jacob Roth (3)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

Portsmouth senior pitcher Deandre Berry (11)

Courtesy of Randy Waugh

Portsmouth senior Zach Roth (8)

Courtesy of Randy Waugh

Portsmouth High School baseball team prayer circle following Wednesday's win at Ironton.

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

Portsmouth sophomore Trevin Brooks (5)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

Portsmouth sophomore shortstop Jacob Roth (3)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

Portsmouth senior pitcher Deandre Berry (11)

Courtesy of Randy Waugh

Portsmouth senior Zach Roth (8)

Courtesy of Randy Waugh

Portsmouth High School baseball team prayer circle following Wednesday's win at Ironton.

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

Portsmouth sophomore Trevin Brooks (5)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

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Portsmouth sophomore shortstop Jacob Roth (3)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

IRONTON — Perhaps the Ironton Fighting Tigers thought they were going to walk their way past Portsmouth on Wednesday.

But Deandre Berry buckled down following the opening inning, and the Trojans' small-ball baseball and running game took over from there —until Trevin Brooks came in and slammed the proverbial door.

In exacting a measure of revenge, and gaining another leg up in the Ohio Valley Conference championship chase, it took a total team effort against the Fighting Tigers —as Portsmouth rallied first and prevailed second in a 6-5 cliffhanger at Ironton's Mike Burcham Field.

The Trojans trailed the Fighting Tigers 2-0 after three innings, as five early walks by Berry — the PHS senior and left-handed ace pitcher — led to both Ironton runs.

However, Portsmouth put it together against Ironton freshman and southpaw pitcher Dawson Philyaw in the fourth and fifth frames —scoring four runs on six hits along with a fourth-inning walk, a fifth-inning sacrifice bunt, and two Ironton throwing errors in the fifth.

Then, against Ironton's Braydon Baker in the seventh, the Trojans tacked on two more markers —on three hits, a Baker RBI-walk to Colin Perry, and two Fighting Tigers fielding errors.

However, as it turned out, Portsmouth needed indeed all six consecutive runs.

That's because Berry, already at the 100-pitch mark to begin the bottom of the seventh, gave up three consecutive singles and threw his second wild pitch of the game to start the inning —as Ironton's Jon Wylie whacked a two-run single to make it 6-4.

At that point, PHS coach Aaron Duncan replaced Berry with sophomore and number-two pitcher Trevin Brooks —as Brooks did throw a wild pitch of his own, with Wylie racing home to make it 6-5.

But Brooks bulldogged down from there, and retired the final three Fighting Tigers to end the game.

The final out was recorded by second baseman Malachi Loper, as Loper lofted up —and made the grab of the shallow fly ball in the right field outfield grass.

That set off a rather rowdy, yet reserved, Trojan celebration — as the club gathered around home plate immediately afterwards, and held its regular prayer circle following games.

Truth be told, the Trojans' triumph at Ironton included perhaps some divine intervention — but more so it was all about comeback, skill level, Berry barreling his way after the opening inning, and just Portsmouth plain and simple playing to its strengths.

"This is a huge OVC win for us," said Duncan. "We're still really young. We only have three seniors that are really getting playing time. Deandre (Berry) and Trevin (Brooks) together pitching, and I thought Malachi Loper in the field was the difference. Going and getting that popup at the end of the game, a lot of times, you see that ball drop, but Malachi wasn't going to be denied. He went back and got the glove on it. Our defense played great behind Deandre and we made a lot of nice plays. The last two games he's pitched, we've made no errors. Just really happy for the kids."

As a result, the Trojans —prior to Friday's OVC game against Gallia Academy —remained atop the league at 8-2, part of 12-4 overall.

Fairland, which split with Portsmouth in their season series including last Friday at Fairland as the Dragons won 3-1, entered the weekend at 6-2 in the conference.

Ironton — now 10-6 and 7-4 in the OVC — was scheduled to face Fairland in a makeup matchup on Thursday, but that game got postponed again to sometime in May.

South Point, playing Portsmouth on Monday (April 29 at SPHS) and Tuesday (April 30 at PHS) of this coming week, stood at 6-3 in the OVC entering the weekend.

The Trojans split their season series against Ironton —which won 12-9 at Portsmouth on April 8, and Berry struggled with his control and command early in that outing.

Baker, the fourth walk issued by Berry in the first, resulted in a run —as Wylie walked to lead off the third, then advanced around on a groundout and wild pitch before scoring on another RBI-groundout.

But Berry, after seeing seven Fighting Tigers in the first —faced four batters apiece in innings two, three, four, five and six.

Portsmouth senior pitcher Deandre Berry (11)

Courtesy of Randy Waugh

He did walk seven of 30 Ironton batters, but only allowed two hits until the seventh —an Ian Ginger two-out single in the second and a Tanner Kleinman one-out single in the sixth.

He struck out four — as Ginger, Connor Kleinman and Wylie singled to lead off the seventh.

Duncan described Berry battling back —and Brooks nailing the coffin shut and gaining the save.

Portsmouth sophomore Trevin Brooks (5)

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

In all, Ironton left five runners aboard —all against Berry.

"Whenever we played down home (at Hatcher Field in Portsmouth), Deandre started against them, and we were down 6-0 before we recorded an out. But Deandre stuck with it, and they had a hard time getting to him once he got through their lineup after the first inning. He had a lot of walks, no basehits and the same thing was a repeat tonight. But we started having (catcher) Trevin set up inside, and Deandre regained focus and I thought he did a good job. Deandre, being a senior, got his composure back and forgot about balls and strikes and quit playing umpire and just threw the ball," said the coach. "Deandre started cruising and found his groove. When he has that defensive help, and he's painting corners and getting some strikeouts, he is tough to beat. Then Trevin came in and slammed the door. He's that type of kid he wants the ball."

Philyaw, for the Fighting Tigers, was pitching in only his fourth varsity game —and making his first career start.

But, he did retire nine of the first 10 Trojans he faced —including seven straight.

The only Portsmouth baserunner in the first three innings was J.T. Williams —with a first-inning single and stolen base.

In the fourth, though, Williams walked —and Zach Roth drove him home with a two-out RBI ground-rule double over the fence in deep right.

Portsmouth senior Zach Roth (8)

Courtesy of Randy Waugh

In the fifth, the Trojans combined Ironton's two throwing errors, a sac bunt, three straight singles and a rundown resulting in an out for three runs — two of which were unearned.

Jacob Roth had an infield hit, and Williams singled, sandwiched around freshman Camron Williams' two-RBI basehit.

It was 4-2 Trojans following five, as Roth and Camron Williams singled to lead off the seventh —with Brooks singling in Roth and Williams walking in on Perry's walk.

"The two runs in the last inning that we got were vital. We needed both of them," said Duncan.

The Trojans tallied 10 hits —with four of them being of the infield variety.

The top three Trojans in the lineup —Roth with two, Camron Williams with three and J.T. Williams with two —accounted for seven of those 10 basehits.

"Their first pitcher (Philyaw) kept us off balance. We had to go backside, we were trying to pull the ball and he's getting us out in front. Once we got our approach at the plate trying to go backside and get some runners on, we were able to consecutively hit the ball and get some runs in," said Duncan.

In addition, Portsmouth's speed killed.

"We have a lot of fast kids in our lineup. We have to rely on putting the ball in play and using our legs to try and will things out," added Duncan. "There were some plays down the line that we were able to beat out. The old saying we tell people is 'pressure bursts pipes.' If you want to burst pipes, then apply pressure by getting on base and using your speed."

No doubt, the Trojans ran hard towards Wednesday's win —as opposed to Ironton trying to walk that way.

"We're coming together and gelling as a team," said Duncan. "This win keeps us right up there in the OVC with some big games next week."

Portsmouth High School baseball team prayer circle following Wednesday's win at Ironton.

Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

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Portsmouth 000 130 2 —6 10 0

Ironton 101 000 3 —5 5 4

PHS: Deandre Berry 6+IP, 5R, 5ER, 5H, 0HB, 7BB, 0IBB, 2WP, 4K, 30BF; Trevin Brooks 1IP, 0R, 0ER, 0H, 0HB, 0BB, 0IBB, 1WP, 0K, 3BF

IHS: Dawson Philyaw 4 1/3IP, 4R, 2ER, 7H, 0HB, 1BB, 0IBB, 0WP, 1K, 21BF; Braydon Baker 2 2/3IP, 2R, 1ER, 3H, 0HB, 2BB, 0IBB, 1WP, 2K, 14BF

W — Deandre Berry; L — Dawson Philyaw; S — Trevin Brooks

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com, or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved