PORTAL — Evan Street smashed a three-run home run to highlight a seven-run fifth inning as the Portal Panthers notched an 8-6 victory over the Claxton Tigers Tuesday evening.
The Panthers (4-12, 1-8 Region 3-A) dropped a pair of games to the Tigers (6-10, 3-6) early in the season, but the third time proved to be the charm.
Portal managed just one run before the big fifth inning, but Brett Howell caused just as many problems for the Claxton offense. The righty went five innings, allowing two runs on just two hits to pick up his second win in as many starts.
Claxton took a 2-1 lead off of Howell and the Panthers in the top of the fifth, but Portal bounced back with a vengeance.
Edgar Diaz began the bottom of the fifth with a single off of Claxton starter Derek Hollingsworth, who was then relieved by Jacob Barrow. Christian McCranie and Chase Kirkland chased Barrow after a pair of singles —tying the game at 2-2 — and Lane Anderson bounced an offering from Tanner Lee through the legs of Hollingsworth at shortstop to retake the lead at 3-2.
Street followed with his bomb to left center field, blowing the game wide open.
A walk and three more singles stretched the Portal lead to 8-2.
“We talked about that big inning before the game,” Moore said. “We didn’t get into too much trouble when we were in the field. When we had our chance to get things going at the plate, we took advantage.”
Street relieved Howell in the sixth inning and mowed down the first three Claxton batters he faced, but the Tigers rallied in the final frame.
Wyatt Sapp (2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI) led off with a double and advanced to third on a single from Kyle Vliet. Street seemed to regain command as he got Lee to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to pull within one out of the win, but Claxton continued to swing away.
Trailing 8-3, an error and two singles made it 8-4 before Caleb Hodges drilled a two-run double to center. Street finally slammed the door, getting Hollingsworth to ground to shortstop to end the game.
Street was making his first pitching appearance of the year at home after an injury kept him off of the mound for over a month. Despite the speed bump in the sixth, Moore stuck with him and he was able to get the final out.
Portal will try to make it two wins in a row today as the Panthers travel to Josey.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.