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Portal's big rally falls short
Portal's Cody Clark strides into a line drive base hit in the third inning against Wheeler County Tuesday. The Portal bats were hot, but Wheeler's were hotter as the Panthers fell in a 20-11 barnburner.

The Portal Panthers dug themselves an 11-0 hole, and could have easily folded up from there, but instead fought back to cut the Wheeler County lead to 11-9. In the long run it wasn’t enough though, as they gave up nine runs in the seventh, and fell 20-11.

Senior night had four Panther players playing in their last game, and it was another memorable game for the Panthers who were done in by two nine run innings, leaving 11 runners on base, committing 6 errors, five walks and two batters hit by pitches.

“It’s hard to win any game when you give up a nine spot in two innings,” said Portal coach Dennis Moore. “I am super proud of the way the boys fought back, that showed a lot of character.”

Things got out of hand pretty quickly for the Panthers who trailed 2-0 in the second, but the main trouble came in the third inning. RBI singles by Noah Mitchell and Ethan Stokes were followed by a Panther error, and a Zach Horton single to right made it 5-0.

The long inning continued as Zeb Floyd came through with an RBI double. Tyler Hagan then walked the next four batters - forcing in three runs - for a 9-0 lead. A Panther error brought in the next two runs, and the Bulldogs were up 11-0.

Portal fought back for four runs in the bottom of the third. Fisher Oglesby brought two runs in with a double to left. Hagan then doubled home Oglesby to cut the lead to 11-3. A fielders choice brought in the next run, and Portal trailed 11-4.

The Panthers added another in the fourth, as a Blaise Murphy sacrifice fly plated Levi Edminsten to cut the lead to 11-5.

The Panthers continued to scratch back in the sixth. Hagan started the scoring with an RBI single to left, Murphy scored to make it 11-6. A Keegan McCoy single would load the bases, and Cody Clark followed with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 11-7. Chandler Sheffield then singled with the bases loaded, bringing two runs in and cutting the lead to two at 11-9.

“It was so nice to cut the led to two there in the sixth,” Moore said. “We had a realistic shot, but just had a hard time in the last inning, but I was proud by how they fought back.”

Trouble came in the top of the seventh as Wheeler County scored nine more runs on a combination of walks, errors and hits to extend their lead to 20-9

The Panthers scratched back for two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on a single swing of the bat from senior McCoy. McCoy took a two strike pitch deep to left center for a two run homer, but that’s as close as things would get as Portal falls 20-11.

“We said goodbye to four seniors tonight,” Moore said. “Tonight was about those four guys, and they played their hearts out. They all had moments tonight where they came through. Everybody remembers their last game on their home field.”

The loss drops the Panthers to 9-18 overall and 2-9 in region play. The Panthers wrap up the season at Montgomery County Thursday at 4:00.