PORTAL — The Jenkins County bats were on fire Tuesday evening as the Eagles breezed to a 16-6 victory over Portal in six innings at Franklin Coleman Memorial Field.
The Eagles (3-11, 1-5 Region 3-A) got a 3-run blast from Tyler Taylor — who went 3-for-3 with four runs batted in — to open the scoring and Dee Brown added a solo shot in Jenkins’ power display.
“We did a good job of getting ahead early,” said Jenkins coach Wendell Clark. “We’ve lost some close games where we had some opportunities late. We’ve got a lot of young guys that play and I think that their gained experience is starting to show as the season goes on.”
Eagle starter Jake Knight (2-for-4, 2 RBI) helped his own cause before ever throwing a pitch as he singled to lead off the game. Jay Bowers (3-for-5, 2 RBI) followed with a single of his own and both came in to score on Taylor’s long ball.
Brown’s home run led off the top of the second and Jenkins County capped it’s four-run frame with a Marquett Young single that plated two runners.
“A lot of that experience I talked about showed in those home runs today,” said Clark. “Both of those guys are just freshmen, and if you look at the stats over the last five games, they’re two of our best hitters.”
The Eagles kept adding to their lead over the next two innings as Knight and Bowers each recorded two-run singles to press the advantage to 13-0.
Jenkins cruised into the bottom of the fourth inning before a barrage of Eagle errors threatened to get the Panthers (2-11, 0-6) back into the game.
Corey Walker led off the frame with a walk and advanced to third on a wild pickoff attempt by Knight. Jordan Cowart singled home Walker and advanced to second when Levontay Evans couldn’t handle a Nolan Clark fly ball.
Rabun Hutchison laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Knight attempted to nail Cowart advancing to third and the throw caromed off Taylor’s glove and into left field, allowing Cowart to score and runners to reach second and third.
Carl Smith delivered a two-run single into right center to make it 13-4 and — after a Cory Smith single — came in on Taylor’s wild throw as Corey Smith stole second.
Kyle Boggs capped the Panther scoring, bunting home Corey Smith from third and bringing Portal within 13-6.
“I think that we got a big lead and lost some focus,” said Clark. “That’s not something we wanted to do against Portal, because they won’t quit. I came out to the mound and called everyone in to kind of regroup and we were able to get out of it.”
Knight regrouped to retire three straight batters to escape the jam and allowed just 2 more base runners over the final two innings. Knight finished with five strikeouts and allowed just one earned run in his complete-game effort.
The Panthers will get another chance to record their first region win Friday as they host Treutlen County at 5 p.m.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.