It’s been an up and down season for the Portal Panthers in 2016. The Panthers started the season on a five-game win streak, but Portal is currently on the outside looking in of the state playoffs after a 16-3 loss to Savannah Christian Friday at home.
According to the power polls of the Georgia High School Association, the Panthers are sitting three spots outside of the top 16.
The Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak March 29 against Savannah Country Day in a 6-5 win, but since then Portal won just one of the next four games.
With just three games left in the regular season, time is running out for the Panthers (7-10, 1-9 Region 3-A) to make a state-playoff push.
“We have three games left and we’re going to have to run the table. If we can do that, maybe we can give us a shot,” Portal head coach Dennis Moore said. “We just have to take it one game at a time. Our playoffs start on Tuesday. We just have to do whatever it takes and keep playing meaningful baseball.”
Friday against the Raiders, Hector Diaz went 2-for-3 and scored two runs. Jake Brown had a solid day at the plate, going 1-for-3 and driving in three RBIs.
Jade Street got the start for the Panthers. He three innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits.
Zack Brockman threw five innings for the Raiders and struck out five batters. He surrendered two earned runs. Jacob Rhodes, Evan Richardson and Ben Haeussler combined for six RBIs.
The No. 3 ranked team in the Class-A private power ratings jumped on the Panthers early in the first inning—driving in five runs on five hits.
“They won the region for a reason. We knew it was going to be a challenge today,” said Moore after the loss to Savannah Christian. “I felt like our boys came out and competed. We hung in there for awhile. They are a good team and you have to feel like they’re going to go far in the playoffs.”
The Panthers trailed 7-1 in the bottom of the third inning. Portal tried to stage a comeback. Street drew a walk, followed by Diaz’s single into left field.
Brown delivered the big hit of the game for the Panthers with a 1-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the third inning.
After the game, Brown said the Panthers need to stay focused in order to have a shot at the state playoffs.
“We just have to play hard and stay calm. We [won three in a row] in the beginning of the season and we can do it again,” Brown said. “We just have to stay focused.”
Coming off a back-to-back, the Panthers were light in their pitching rotation.
Portal’s relief pitching gave up nine runs, including eight runs in the top of the sixth.
“It was our third game this week and we were getting a little short on pitching. If the game had got tight, we might have done something different pitching wise. It kind of got away from us at the end,” Moore said. “I’m still proud of the way the guys went out there and played.”
Portal will be at home once again to take on Glasscock County. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m.