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Portal tops Bryan County, 8-4
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    PORTAL — Brett Rivers threw a complete-game one-hitter and struck out seven as the Portal Panthers (2-6, 1-3, Region 3-A) snapped a six-game losing streak and got their first region win of the season, knocking off Bryan County 8-4 Friday.
    The whole team was relieved to get in the win column in the region for the first time this season.
    “I think it’s big,” Rivers said. “Everybody’s been tired of losing and we haven’t been doing real well. We’ve got that monkey off our back now.”
    The Panthers got into an early 4-1 hole before bouncing back with six runs between the second and fourth.
    Trailing 1-0 in the top of the second, the Redskins took advantage of Brett Rivers’ only shaky inning, putting together a four-run, two-out rally without the aid of a hit.
    Cody Crowe got things started with a two-out walk, and the Redskins loaded the bases on an error and another walk. Three-straight bases-loaded walks put BCHS up 3-1, and a fielding error allowed the fourth to cross the plate.
    Portal – who crossed the plate in each of the first five innings, bounced back in a hurry.
    In the bottom of the second, Corey Deloach scored on Mickey Williams’ second-inning RBI single, and Cody Cowart scored on a Nick Boggs sacrifice fly to centerfield to close the gap to one.
    Portal knotted the score at four in the bottom of the third on some head’s-up running by Rivers. After being hit by a pitch for the second time in the contest, a stolen base and a passed ball put him on third. David Finch grounded to short, and Rivers was held on third. He took off for home and was able to score on the throw to first.
    After another 1-2-3 inning from Rivers – who shut BCHS down in order in four of his seven innings of work - the Panthers blew the game open with a three-run fourth, led by RBI singles by Dampier and Rivers.
    Rivers has seen improvement in his game from the mound since the season started.
    “I hadn’t been pitching as well as I did last year,” said Rivers. “I’ve been working a lot harder, trying to get out of my slump. I’ve done a lot so I can go out there and throw 130 pitches without it bothering me.”
    The Panthers racked up nine hits on the night, threatening from the plate for the first time since a preseason win over Emanuel County Institute.
    “We’ve been changing around the batting drills,” said Panther coach Tendai Haggins. “Guys have been hitting the batting cage, staying until seven, eight o’clock at night. They’ve been coming in early, coming in over the weekend. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing the ball better, and we hit better today.”
    Dampier finished 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs, and Rivers crossed the plate twice, going 1-for-2. Williams finished the contest at 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
    Portal looks to continue its hot hitting on the road against region-best Calvary at 4 p.m.

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