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Screven thumps Portal
Panthers entertain ECI in 3-A showdown
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    SYLVANIA — Jeremy Rosier pitched a complete game allowing only two earned runs and striking out six in five innings, and Garrett Bates was 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, two RBIs and two runs as the Screven County Gamecocks plastered the visiting Portal Panthers 12-2 in five innings in a non-region match up Thursday night.
    Screven (12-8) out-hit PHS 13 to four in the contest, but two four-run innings to start the game were all SCHS needed to get the job done against the visiting Panthers (11-12).
    Bates got things started in the bottom of the first when he ripped a 3-1 pitch to the gap in right center for a double. A fielding error during the next at-bat allowed Bates to score and Tyler McBride to reach first base.
    After a walk put runners on first and second, Jon Rash blasted a come-backer that hit off the mound and popped 30 feet into the air allowing another run to cross the plate and runners on the corners for Chuck Kight.
    A Kight RBI single and a groundout with a runner on third capped off the first inning scoring drive and gave the Gamecocks a 4-0 lead.
    Rosier struck out four Panthers in the first two innings and Screven doubled its lead in the bottom of the second.
    After Walker Stuart lined a single over the glove of leaping Portal third baseman Brett Rivers, Bates crushed the first pitch he saw to left field for a two-run homer. A Rash RBI single and a Kight sacrifice fly secured the four-run second inning and gave the Panthers an 8-0 lead.
    “(Starting pitcher Jordan) Clark got a few pitches up early,” said Portal coach Tendai Haggins, “walked a couple of batters. They hit a couple of balls hard. He hasn’t pitched much. He’s mainly an outfielder. Just wanted to get him a few innings in…
    “(Reliever Dustin) Jones came in, threw a couple of innings, didn’t do bad, but we already dug ourselves in a hole.”
    The Panthers tried to dig out of the hole in the top of the third when outfielder Brandon Mock dove into third with an RBI triple that scored two, but the rally was cut short and it was the only offense PHS could muster and it entered the fourth trailing 8-2.
    Portal’s relief pitcher — freshman Garrett Hodges —entered the game in the third and slowed the bats of the Gamecocks. He pitched the final three innings and struck out four, but allowed the four runs SCHS needed for the five-inning win. He allowed one in the fourth and three in the fifth, including a pinch-hit solo home run by outfielder Michael Johnson to straightaway center.
    “We came out and hit the ball well,” said Gamecock assistant coach J.R. Doyle. “We set back on it, just got a few base hits. Hit the ball into some gaps and turned it into extra bases. That’s the main thing we want to do, just see if we can keep it going — keep it running. Move it around the base paths and just play as fast as we can.”
    Screven (7-4, Region 3-AA) will go back to region play on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. when they travel to Westside. Portal (7-4, Region 3-A) plays Emanuel County Institute today at 5 p.m. in Portal. The game is a big one for Haggins and his Panthers.
    “We’ve got to right the ship,” said the Portal coach. “Hopefully that starts (after the Screven game). We’re going to go back and we’re going to hit the baseball field. We’re going to flip on the lights (later) and see if we can’t get in some batting practice…
    “So its going to be a long night. See if we can’t sharpen some skills, get some confidence back heading into a big ballgame (today) against ECI for the number two spot in the region.”

Notes: The game was senior night for the Gamecocks. McBride, Knight, and W.D. Smith were honored in a ceremony preceding the contest. “It was very important for those three guys,” said Doyle. “They mean a lot to us. They’re family. We wanted to do something special for them, because they are special to us.”... Today’s game will be senior night for the Panthers. The contest will place either ECI or Portal in second place in region 3-A behind Calvary Day heading into the region playoffs.... Panther outfielder Clayton Williams, a top hitter for Portal in 2006 who has sat out most of the 2007 season due to a football injury, saw time in right field Thursday against Screven County.... Portal catcher Tagg Lanier took a low pitch to the wrist while playing defense. After striking out in his next at-bat, he left the game.

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