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Portal wins cross-divisonal series
Portal New WEB

Portal has run into now nine wins this season, but none of them could have been as sweet as the one Wednesday night.
    After losing their first baseman, committing five errors and being on the wrong end of a clearly missed call down the foul line on the second at-bat of the game — Portal still persevered and pulled out a 7-4 win over Montgomery County to sweep the region 3-A crossover series.
    “That was a tight ball game for sure, starting out so slow probably didn’t help us out,” said head coach Dennis Moore. “But guys kept playing and we had some timely hits.”
    The adversity was all around Portal during Wednesday’s contest. After walking the leadoff hitter in the top of the first, Tyler Hagan threw a 2-1 pitch to an outstretched bunt attempt, which rolled fair right until it hopped to the left of third base. Blake Hendrix tried to make a play on the ball, but clearly did not touch it as the ball went foul.
    The umpire saw things differently.
    Confused about the call, Portal staggered around as both Montgomery County runners made their way around to third and second — both of whom would score via sac fly to go up 2-0. Roll in the five fielding blunders and Keegan McCoy injuring his ankle on a collision at first base — it was an accomplishment in itself that Portal had kept the game as close as it was.
    However while things were screwy on the bases and in the field, a lot of credit can be given to sophomore Cody Clark, who came in relief of Tyler Hagen who had given up three runs off four walks and a hit in an inning and a third.
    Clark finished the game, giving up four hits and only one unearned run with two strikeouts. His arm was able to compensate for Portal missing a number of opportunities at the plate trying to swipe the lead back from the Eagles.
    “If I had to pick an MVP for that game it would have been Cody,” Moore said. “He came in, threw strikes and kept us in the ballgame.”
    Three times — in the bottom half of the second, third and fourth innings — Portal left the tying or go-ahead run on third base.
    In the bottom of the second Noah Adams reached base on an error, then worked his way around to third before Jamal Simpkins flew out to deep centerfield on the third out. Then in the next inning after driving in Jake Brown to tie the game at 3-3, Fischer Ogelsby sat on third with two outs only to see McCoy groundout to second.
    “Noah is another young guy who’d had a couple of really good games lately,” Moore said. “He’s gained some confidence and hopefully that carries over into next season.”
    Even in the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded and Brown at the plate, the Brewton-Parker commit lined the ball straight into the pitcher who’d gather himself and throw over to first to set down Portal again.
    So when the Panthers had the bases loaded and not outs in the bottom of the sixth, it didn’t seem possible to mess up an opportunity that easy.
    In short, they didn’t.
    Simpkins, who was 0-2 prior to the at-bat, hit what looked to be a sure fire double-play ball to second base before the ball hit a funky bounce that forced the fielder to try and readjust — but by the time he threw the ball to first Simpkins was well safe and the game was tied 4-4.
    Seniors Landon Stephens and Jake Brown would drive in the later three runs to push the Panthers ahead for good. The win completed the sweep and cemented Portal 11th in their 12 team region.
    “It’s nice to finally have a couple fall in your favor, sometimes that’s just how it goes,” Moore said.
    Even though it wasn’t necessary, Portal and Montgomery County played the third game anyway after Portal had completed the sweep.The game fell 13-4 in Portal’s favor, making them 3-0 over the Eagles on the week and served as a nice consolation prize for a team that has been mathematically eliminated by the power ratings for the postseason.
    Portal (9-14, 1-10) will play a makeup game Saturday against Glascock County (7-11, 4-7) at home starting at 1:00 p.m.