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Claxton clobbers Portal
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    PORTAL — Harley Hendrix needed just 55 pitches and five innings to shut down Portal as the Claxton Tigers (3-1, Region 3-A) cruised to a 12-1 victory over the Panthers Tuesday.
    After allowing a run in the bottom of the first, Hendrix (3-0) set PHS down in order in each of the last four innings. Portal put a man on in the second and third, but Claxton used a thrown-out stolen base attempt and a double play to help Hendrix shut down the side each time to seal the complete-game three-hitter.
    “Harley gets ahead in the count,” said Claxton coach Brian Todd. “He’s not going to throw by anybody. He’s going to change speeds, and we’re going to get ground balls. If we pick them up, we’re doing okay.”
    Portal allowed eight Tiger runs to cross the plate over the first 11⁄3 innings, including four on Matt Rogers’ first-inning grand slam. Hendrix helped himself out at the dish, going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. He also reached base on a walk in the second and an error in the fourth.
    With runners on second and third and one out in the top of the second, PHS reliever Nick Boggs came in to prevent any further damage. A popout and a strikeout got the Panthers out to the inning.
    Boggs was lights out for the next two innings. He struck out the side in the third, and in the fourth — after a walk and an error put runners on second and third with nobody out — caught three-straight Tigers looking.
    Boggs struck out eight in his 32⁄3 innings of work.
    “He did a good job today,” said Panther coach Tendai Haggins. “He threw the ball around the plate, got his curve ball going and threw strikes.”
    Claxton sealed the win with four more runs in the top of the fifth, and Hendrix and Tiger third baseman Kelvin Goodson each crossed the plate for the third time.
    The Panthers (0-3, Region 3-A) have felt the effects of their youth in the season’s early going. With only three seniors, PHS is having trouble finding any consistency.
    “We act like we know what’s going on one minute, and the next minute we don’t,” Haggins said. “Right now, guys are not producing. … Everybody’s going to get a chance to play, and we’ll see who plays the best. If it’s a ninth grader starting instead of a senior, hey, that’s the way it’s going to be if he’s producing right now.”
    Haggins looks to fill in the holes any way he can, and will look for help from the B-Team during today’s contest.
    “JV travels to Savannah Christian (today),” the Portal coach said. “Those guys that are producing are going to get a chance to play. That’s all I can do with it right now.”
    The varsity Panthers return to action Friday when they host Bryan County in a region matchup, and Claxton hits the diamond Monday to take on Jenkins County.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.