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Dustin Jones’ grand slam shuts the door

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    PORTAL — Brett Rivers pitched four innings of no-hit ball, senior Vinnie Lynn was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs and Dustin Jones hit a game-ending grand slam as Portal routed Claxton 16-0 Tuesday.
    The game was called with one out in the bottom of the fourth after the Panthers (10-9, 7-2 Region 3-A) plated nine runs and increased their lead to 16.
    “Brett Rivers came in and threw strikes, we got ground balls early and played great defense,” said PHS coach Tendai Haggins. “Started off the first inning — put up a two spot, everybody relaxed and felt comfortable with the bat.”
    Rivers, a sophomore, threw 64 pitches, walked one and hit two batters, but didn’t allow a hit in four innings. Brandon Stanfield beat a grounder to short in the fourth, but a misplay by Jones was ruled an error.
    The turning point in the game came in the top of the third when Rivers loaded the bases full of Tigers on two hit batsmen and a fielders choice with nobody out.
    Matthew Rogers lined a 1-1 pitch to center which was caught by a diving Mickey Williams, Harley Hendrix struck out and Jamalcolm Morgan fouled out to third to end the CHS (7-10, 2-7 Region 3-A) threat.
    Portal then scored three in the bottom half of the third before exploding for nine in the fourth. Eight of those runs came off of relief pitcher John Peel, who got one out, walked one, hit three and gave up three hits.
    Derek Finch, Tagg Lanier and Brandon Mock were all hit by a pitch to load the bases after one out in the fourth. Jordan Clark then doubled over the center fielder’s head to score two, Rivers reached on an error to score another and David Dampier singled on a hit-and-run to right to make the score 11-0.
    Lynn then doubled to left for his fourth RBI of the game, Williams walked to load the bases and Jones crushed a 3-2 fastball from Hendrix — who replaced Peel — over the center field fence to the end the game.
    “I told (Dustin) that (Hendrix) had to come in and throw strikes,” said Haggins. “It’d be a nice way to end it for a senior to hit a walk-off grand slam. I never thought it would happen but it did.”
    Jones finished 1-for-3 with two runs and four RBIs, Mock was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, Dampier was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Clark was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Every Panther reached base at least once. Claxton starter Rogers gave up six earned runs in three innings.
    Portal will travel to Bryan County for a 6 p.m. start Friday. Claxton returns home to face Savannah Country Day Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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